After spending all of last year in Paris, I sincerely doubt Americans in France are being “beat up and harassed” (“GW issues safety cautions to students abroad,” Nov. 1, p. 1). I have never met a French person whose anti-Americanism ran any deeper than a sort of intellectual and cultural smugness.
On the other hand, many French are rabidly anti-Arab – this racism stemming from the Algerian War of Independence and recent influxes of North African Muslims. The bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have many French fearful of similar attacks on their own country. The recent cover of a weekly French magazine showed a 747 flying into the Eiffel Tower. According to polls, most French people support the American bombings, and those who oppose them do so primarily for humanitarian reasons.
While I am sure that Americans have become targets for violence in many countries worldwide, I have a hard time believing that France, or any other Western European country, is one of them.