In Paris some mourners worry about backlash against Muslims: It’s going to be a surge of hate… A lot has been said in the days following the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13. Today, a little over 2 weeks after the attacks, Paris is still recovering. The streets are still much more quiet than normal, especially this close to Christmas. The Place de la Republique has transformed itself into a giant memorial where people still place flowers and burn candles at the feet of the statue of Marianne, the symbol of the French Republique, as well as on the corners of the streets and in front of the places where so many innocent people lost their lives. Amidst the flowers there are many photos, many drawings and many signs, most claiming that we are not afraid. But we should. Not of this supposed surge of hatred against Muslims in France. There really is no reason for that. No, there is something else we should be afraid of and it is called propaganda and false information.
To understand what is happening today – and I’m not talking about the actual attacks but about what is going on around it – we really should take a step back and look at our recent history. A war broke out in the beginning of the 20th century. We called it the Great War, and the War That Would End All Wars. It was a terrible war and a slaughter of men and boys that faced each other on battlefields with the first things we called modern weapons. We said never again and we didn’t forget. Still, only 2 decades later the Second World War put us again in the shadow of evil. A different war with different puppeteers. It lasted 6 years and when it was done we said never again and we didn’t forget. Now, 70 years later we still have not forgotten. But we’re doing it again..
What we do seem to have forgotten, or maybe neglected, is that most wars begin with small group of people standing up for what they believe to be the right way. And with that, propaganda to make others follow what they believe. Mind you, I use the word believe and not belief as there is a true difference between the two. Propaganda is usually recognized as such after it is too late. It starts with the hate, and blaming others for whatever they can be blamed for. But that doesn’t mean that all that is said should be taken as truth. Not all people in the Nazi Party were anti-Semetic. Not all Germans wanted to kill Jews. And not all Japanese wanted to expand the empire. It’s all a matter of percentages and a matter of using the right words and the right channels to spread them. It was dangerous then, and it is even more dangerous now when living room politics have became social network politics in which everyone can share his or hers opinion and create mini waves that oh so easily can grow into tidal waves.
I do not know what happened in the minds of the people of New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Nor do I pretend to know what happens in the minds of people today, here in Paris and elsewhere in the world (do not forget the bombing in Lebanon only one day before the Paris attacks). I do however not think there is going to be a surge of hate against Muslims here in France. I’d like to believe we are mature and smart enough, especially in a secular country such as France, that this has been an action of a small group of radicals. But let’s not forget, really not forget, that it is those actions that demand reactions. We cannot love away evil. It simply doesn’t work that way. –BM-
Cover photography by Fred. M. Photography
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