Nous sommes tous Français: We are all French
In Paris Friday evening, in a half-dozen cooperated attacks, men with AK-47s, grenades, shotguns and suicide belts attacked a restaurant, a sold-out concert hall and bombed a stadium. French President François Hollande was evacuated from the stadium, a curfew imposed across Paris and the French borders closed.
In a statement, spoken in French with Arabic and English subtitles, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for attacks which killed at least 129 people and injured more than 350—99 of whom are in critical condition. As of right now, seven of the terrorists are dead and seven more involved in the attacks have been arrested in Belgium, with an eighth potentially at large.
The hashtag #PorteOuverte, “open door,” was used to identify those willing to take in anyone from the street who needed shelter from the attacks. Social media overflowed with French flags, peace signs modeled after the Eiffel Tower and the hashtag #PrayForParis.
The shockwaves of the Paris attacks are many and there might be many more to come.
Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization says that if one NATO member is attacked, all members respond. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it was not only the United States, but its European allies who responded.
By attacking a stadium filled with citizens from France and Germany (and other foreign nationals, including one American) ISIS has not only given NATO every reason to retaliate but created something very near consensus among four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. As if two million angry Russians wasn’t terrifying enough after the downing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, the Security Council is currently chaired by the Russian Federation.
As I write this, it is still unclear what NATO or the Security Council will do, if anything, but this is one of those moments when one notices being a physically fit military-age male.
As ISIS said in a propaganda video, Paris was “the first of the storm.” Other ISIS attacks have killed dozens and injured hundreds in Baghdad and Beirut. But for those who chide Westerners for not being as shattered—or even aware—that in the last few days Iraqis and Lebanese had also been the victims of attacks, I have only three words: family comes first.
Of course there are other terrorist attacks. People die every day. But families mourn first. The Iraqis and Lebanese are family to some. The French are family to others. Have the decency to let families mourn their own.
Regardless of whether the French government recoils like the Spanish and the Canadian governments did and pulls out of the Middle East or weather it doubles down like the Russians, I’m numb to think what the French must be going through.
Numbness. Fear. Anger. This is what gripped a generation of Americans fourteen years ago and has now gripped a generation of Frenchmen. “The world changed forever today,” said one Michigan man. “My heart breaks for our beloved Paris and its people.”
After Sept. 11, the French unfurled and waved American flags in solidarity with we Americans. “Nous sommes tous Américains,” “We are all Americans,” said one French woman. Today, Americans should do the same for the French.
Nous sommes tous Français.