Wednesday, April 17, 2019
When the iconic house of worship at the heart of French Christianity decides to mark Holy Week by going up in flames, it's too obviously symbolic of something ...but of what exactly? Two thousand churches have been vandalized in the last two years: Valérie Boyer, who represents Bouches-du-Rhône in the National Assembly, said earlier this month that "every day at least two churches are profaned" - by which she means arson, smashed statutes of Jesus and Mary, and protestors who leave human fecal matter in the shape of a cross. This is a fact of life in modern France.
As it is, there is no shortage of excitable young Mohammedans gleefully celebrating on social media. In 2017 some inept hammer-wielding nutter yelling "Allahu Akbar!" had a crack at Notre Dame, and a couple of years before that the historian Dominique Venner blew his brains out on the altar to protest same-sex marriage. I love France but, in recent years, it's hard not to pick up on the sense that it's coming apart - and that, when the center cannot hold, the things at that center, the obsolete embodiments of a once cohesive society, are a natural target.
In addition, the authorities' eagerness to assure us that it was an accident at a time when such a conclusion could not possibly be known - and when their own response to the emergency was, to put it politely, somewhat dilatory - was itself enough to invite suspicion: "Sure, it might be an accident. But, even if it weren't, they'd still tell us it was..."
The Notre Dame fire will always be called an "accident" even if pictures appeared of Mohammedans lighting matches. Recalling the three monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil; Shep Smith, Fox News anchor, shut down speakers who deviated from the orthodoxy. As the Red Queen said: sentence first, verdict after.