Marcus D. Lafayette to Americans.
In my more sanctimonious moments, I take the statue of the Marquis de Lafayette as a sign of the possibility of international cooperation. in my more honest ones, I take the statue as a sign that if there's money to be made, you can get anyone to fight for you. It's also a constant reminder that, whatever the rhetorical grandstanding, the U.S. has a lot to be grateful to the French for
, just as much as vice versa
. In a park full of unaristocratic statuary (Lincoln, Gandhi, and Washington), the sprezzatura
of that of Marie Jean Paul Joseph Roche Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
stands out, just as he did in his way. He was a walking oxymoron, an aristocratic revolutionary. He lived in very interesting and very dangerous times, and somehow managed to survive the American Revolutionary War
, the Reign of Terror
, Napoleon and the end of Napoleon, and the July Revolution of 1830
. You've got to admire that.
Now he wouldn't have been the first or last aristocrat
who never met an overthrow he didn't want to be part of
, but there's something particularly Franco-American in the ingenous enthusiasm mixed with naked opportunism
he had for iconoclasm and idealism: P.T. Barnum
meets Patrick Henry
, or, if you will, François Mitterand
meets, well, François Mitterand. So, when I walk on Lafayette past Lafayette, I tip my tricorn hat
to him and offer my own Franco-American greeting: Vive la Republique and Show Me the Money.