The question was asked by Adolph Hitler in August of 1944 after ordering his military governor/general Dietrich von Choltitz to destroy the City of Lights rather than have it fall into the hands of General George Patton’s Third Army, just miles away from liberating the heart and soul of France.
After the horrific attacks of last night on specifically targeted groups of an innocent civilian population –– couples and families at a restaurant casually enjoying a meal, exuberant young people at a rock concert, spirited soccer fans –– again Paris, and France and Europe and indeed all of western civilization are in the cross hairs of madness. Jihad is in the early stages of metastasizing from the traditional borders of the Middle East and is headed to a town near you and me.
A force to be reckoned with from the mid-thirteenth century until World War I, the Ottoman Empire with Islam as the official and only religion left a permanent bloody fingerprint on the West. The conquering Turks absorbed, adapted and modified the economics and sociology of the lands they occupied and the cultures of the peoples they dominated. Yes, the corollary effects on literature, architecture, language and art can still be seen today from Spain to Constantinople. And yes, there was an aspect of genteel sophistication to the ways of the Sultan that may have to some degree balanced out prejudicial brutality against Christians and Jews.
Not so with ISIS. We’ve seen news reports and videos documenting these barbaric henchmen in action, destroying irreplaceable religious and cultural artifacts in ancient sites throughout Syria and Afghanistan, archaeological relics that survived for millennia, now broken into rubble. They want to erase every trace of our history and replace our future with a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, one that excludes everything that we love and hold dear: our faith, our family life, our freedom. Now becoming increasingly frequent and ambitious, these terrorist acts show the unmasked, lethal side of modern radical Islam and its agenda. What is it that we don’t understand about “Death to Infidels?”
The Eiffel Tower went dark last night, maybe saving it from being an easy target, maybe just to show that the spirit represented by one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world was severely wounded: the joie de vivre that has made Paris the exciting, romantic magnet it has been for centuries. Perhaps today we need to acknowledge our fraternité with the shocked and mourning citizens of our nation’s oldest ally, France. Maybe now more than ever we all need to recognize and declare loud and clear, “Je suis Paris.”