Some knuckle-draggers in Kingwood have decided that removing the word "French" from our lexicon doesn't doesn't express their disapproval strongly enough:
Residents of a quiet, quintessentially American subdivision in Kingwood laughed about "freedom" fries and the petition to rename New Orleans' French Quarter.
They hardly expected their own neighborhood to be invaded by the anti-France backlash spurred by American and French differences over the threat of war with Iraq.
But when Francoise Thomas took out the garbage Saturday morning, she saw the angry red letters spray-painted on the garage door of her townhouse.
"Scum go back to France," it read.
"I nearly had a heart attack," she said.
On Sunday, a neighbor who declined to give his name was repainting the white garage door. Others brought Thomas flowers and chocolates to show their support.
"It's just the right thing to do," the neighbor said as he dabbed at then-pink marks still showing.
Thomas considers the graffiti a hate crime and is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator.
Thomas has lived in the United States 23 years and made her career as a real estate agent here. She recently retired and plans to stay in Kingwood.
"I love France and I love the U.S.," she said in her slight French accent, adding that she has tried to stay out of politics on Iraq.
Neighbors lambasted the vandal and said they fear it was someone they know.
"Who knows she's from France?" asked Sandra Winkler. "Only the people in the neighborhood."