April 24th, 2019


Paris calling --- shock, horror, dismay ... then we forget

Paul Greenberg

By Paul Greenberg

Published Jan. 12, 2015

In Paris world leaders attend a mass unity rally (L-R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel

France and all Europe sounded aghast, or at least its press did. As if this latest sneak attack by an all too familiar enemy, this time against a satirical French weekly (again), should have come as a shock.

The enemy does have a name, but it's not one our oh-so-enlightened intelligentsia finds it easy to say out loud: Islamic terrorism.

Identifying it would seem to be against some politically correct code. It's as if the Allies had been obliged to fight the Second World War without mentioning German Nazism or Japanese imperialism.

The bloody work of today's terrorists, and its source, are just as undeniable. Today its results can be seen, felt, and its ever-present danger realized once again in the blasted ruins of a French magazine called Charlie Hebdo (est. circa 1970). At least till Wednesday, the magazine was located in Paris' fashionable 11th Arrondissement -- on the Right Bank not far from the Place de la Bastille, a neighborhood full of historical associations and ghosts of old horrors. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. The more things change in France, the more they stay the disappointing same.

Papers across the continent broke out the extra-big type on their front pages to report the latest "triumph" of Islamic terrorism, this time against an iconoclastic French weekly and its staff, now about a dozen fewer. Lest we forget, a French policeman was also mowed down. His name? Ahmed Merabet, evidently a Muslim.

Editors of old-fashioned print publications were joined in their shock by television networks (Je Suis Charlie -- BBC News, France 24 Stands With Charlie Hebdo), tweeters and websites and politicians galore. Freedom of expression becomes quite popular in (most of) Europe after such attacks.

Once we were blind, but now we see. But only for a while. Look for political correctness to return tomorrow, if it's not back before the end of the day. But for a moment, everybody's awake. And we're shocked, shocked.

Why, who knew we were in such danger? Only those who've been paying attention. But the shock will fade -- until the next horror strikes. And unless the world learns to stay vigilant, it will, it will. En garde.

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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.