I don’t think that I need to provide a link to reports of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris; no one can fail to be aware of them, and appalled by them. For me they have a personal resonance. My wife was born and spent most of her childhood in Paris, and we were married there. My mother-in-law watched Nazi troops marching into Paris in 1940 and saw them leave in 1945, having lived through the Occupation with false papers that disguised her Jewishness. Nowadays, I am a Visiting Professor at Université Paris-Dauphine and visit regularly; in fact I will be there next week. More specifically, my nephew was in a bar on Rue Caron when it was attacked by the gunmen last Friday. He was not hit, but his best friend was shot in the chest, and is still in intensive care, and that friend’s sister was shot in the arm. These were just ordinary twenty-somethings on a night out.
There is so much that could be said about this, and so much that already had been said, that it seems almost pointless to say more. I tend to be quite hawkish about the military and security responses that should be made, but I have no particular knowledge or insight to offer into that. What I do feel clear about is that the massive, predictable surge of responses saying that this shows the failures of multi-culturalism need to be challenged.
Let’s be absolutely clear: those who committed this atrocity are the most ferocious mono-culturalists imaginable. For them, there can and should be no integration and no variety: there is only one true way, derived from a cretinous reading of Islamic scripture. They are the exact mirror image of the ‘Christian Conservative’ Anders Breivik. By contrast, no-one ever shot or blew up another human being in the name of multi-culturalism or of pluralism.
So far as any strategic logic (as opposed to simple hatred) can be discerned in the attacks, it is to hope that it will provoke a punitive reaction against European Muslims so as to say, to some of them at least, that their punitive treatment demonstrates that Muslims cannot be part of the European Polity.
We ‘ordinary people’ can do very little, caught as we are in the cross-fire of two monocultural ideologies. Very little, but not nothing. We can, and should, continue to insist at every opportunity that multi-culturalism is not something to be denied or apologised for, but a cardinal value to be argued for and if necessary to die for.
We dishonour those killed and injured on an ordinary night out in Paris if we take from what they suffered an ideal of separation. Worse, if we do so we honour those who killed and injured them.