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The Spectator: Paris Terror Attacks Show America’s Deep French Connection


November 14, 2015

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As the old French proverb, “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” is translated into the common phrase, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sadly, it couldn’t have been more frighteningly accurate during ISIS terror attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and wounded another 150 Friday.

In what was the worst terror attack in Western Europe since the Madrid railway bombing in 2004, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks as retaliation for the U.S. led airstrikes that killed Jihadi John hours before. Reports are coming in as of press time about the final death toll, but as the numbers will likely rise, what must also rise in America is our unwavering support for our oldest ally.

For so long that we have denigrated and mocked the French in various ways throughout American society. Whether it is taking jabs at effeminate “men” and artists named Pierre, to the outcry to change the name of french fries to freedom fries during the Iraqi War, when the average ‘Merican thinks of France—and most likely Paris, images of snooty waiters in ritzy cafes and picturesque views of the Seine pop quickly into their mind.

That all changed after reports of the first fateful bomb began to trickle in from overseas. As more news began to come in about the bombings all over Paris and early numbers of the victims began to be tallied, naturally such a global tragedy was quickly politicized here in the United States.

To even give such awful tweets and comments such credence and a platform is beneath me. What is truly tragic is that how the deaths of others in a country on the outer side of the Atlantic quickly morphed into how inept our own president is in not dealing with terror, the inflaming of Islamophobia and the glorified acceptance of being culturally and socially ignorant as to what the real issue is.

Yet, in our Kardashian-obsessed, Justin Bieber-loving bubblegum society, we are up in arms over red coffee cups, Mon Dieu!

For now, all of our hearts and thoughts should be the country that helped us defeat the British in the War of Independence, gave us the Statue of Liberty as a centennial gift, the fine cuisine and pastries that we eat, the arts we enjoy, the clothes we wear to the method for the milk we drink; pasteurization-from Louis Pasteur.

Even some of our largest cities  such as St. Louis and New Orleans and most esteemed universities such as Xavier, Duquesne and Marquette bear the name of French explorers. As much as the Goggle-generation armchair generals are surely chomping at the bit—when they are not playing the newest Call of Duty video game of course!—none of them would even know of the French influence on our own military is.

Marquis de Lafayette. Look him up!

Even some our everyday words we use such as a la, boulevard, bourgeois, deja vu, cafe and etiquette have French origin. As a life-long Francophile, who studied French all thru high school and was a member of French Club, we as Americans owe an eternal debt to France due to their many contributions to the world we snap-chat, text and Facebook in.

It’s no coincidence that due to my life-long love of France that my favorite soccer club (Arsenal) has a French manager in Arsene Wenger, my all-time favorite sports athlete is Thierry Henry and that I have indirectly adopted FFC (the French Football Club) as my second-favorite soccer team after USMNT.

When the first bomb explosion was heard during the middle of France’s friendly against Germany, it caused the likes of Patrice Evra to stop for a moment. From the soccer stadium to the bloody streets outside, Paris was forever changed that night, as it went on curfew for the first time since Nazi boots walked it’s streets almost 70 years ago.

The effects of the Paris terror attacks could also be felt by current NBA players such as Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum a native of the Paris neighborhood of Lisieux, who was clearly visibly distracted as news began to trickle in.

Other French-born players such as Boris Diaw, Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Rudy Gobert, Kevin Seraphin, Mickael Pietus, Evan Fournier, Ian Mahinmi, Nando De Colo, Rodrique Beaubois and Alexis Ajinca are also likely to be playing with some heavy hearts.

For a country that has historically been accepting of all foreigners—and has the largest Muslim population in western Europe, the fact that it closed it’s own borders for the first time in it’s history says something. I am not being a prisoner of the tragic actions of the last 24 hours in saying this, but France and it’s people have done so much for my country, it is time that we help them out once more.

No politics or petty divisiveness over gun control or terrorism. That is for another day.

Right now we need to unite in making our world safe and free from the growing spectre that is ISIS. Thanks to the tragic Paris attacks, we are once again reminded of America’s own French connection.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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