Activist Monday: How to React to Terrorism, French Style
Posted January 12, 2015on:
Good Monday, Widdershins. I’m sure we’ve all been paying attention to the horrifying attacks in France by the Islamist State. I can imagine the shock and yes, terror that the French people are experiencing, and so can we all, as we’ve lived through it on American soil.
Our Dear Leader at the time, George W. Bush, reacted by crowing that he had “hit the trifecta” which he would need to invade Iraq, then exhorted Americans to show their solidarity by going shopping. French leadership has reacted quite differently.
More than 3.7 million people marched in the streets of Paris and across France on Sunday in a defiant display of unity against terrorism and racism, after the deadliest attacks on French soil in more than half a century struck the nation at its core.
The dense and determined crowd flooded Paris’s Place de la Republique to pay tribute to the 17 victims murdered in attacks over three days last week by Islamist extremists targeting French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police forces and a Jewish supermarket. More than 50 foreign leaders from Europe, the Middle East and Africa linked arms around President François Hollande at the start the march.
“Paris is today the capital of the world,” Mr Hollande said. “France is going to rise to its best.”
And it did, working in conjunction with several other countries to institute a special forces action to catch and kill the criminals. Just them! Not tens of thousands of Afghanis and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians. Imagine if we had handled things this way after the 9/11 attacks. Imagine the Americans and the coalition forces who would still be alive and whole. Imagine the way the Muslim world would have reacted to a President who quickly caught the killers and brought them to justice. The thought of what might have been is almost too painful to bear.
But we must live in the present, not the past. Given the fact that we don’t have a time machine, I am living up to my New Year’s Resolution (so far) and finding a bright spot in all of this: the inspirational courage of the French people, thronging the streets of Paris in the millions despite their fear; and the French President, who did the right thing. Apparently, the people of France feel the same way.
The demonstration — of 1.2m to 1.6m in Paris, according to the interior ministry — has put the spotlight on Mr Hollande, who had recently been deemed in opinion polls to be the most unpopular president in recent French history before the attacks. He and his government are widely credited with having reacted solidly after Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo and Friday’s Jewish hostage crisis.
“Je suis Charlie” [I am Charlie], a statement that means solidarity with the principles of free speech and defiance of fear, is quickly becoming a catchphrase. Our catchphrase after 9/11 was “war on terror.” I think I know which one I like better.
This is an open thread.
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