Saturday, November 14, 2015

There's been a historical inaccuracy circulating that launched within moments of the curfew set in Paris last night that stated that the last time this was done was during World War II. Intentional or not, the creation of this point of comparison proposes an analogy between our time and that one, one that hints that massive global conflict is afoot and more may be on the way. Indeed the blood had not even stopped spilling before many began declaring their intentions against Islam and Syrian refugees (who are ironically fleeing ISIS terror) and salivating over the retaliation.

But WWII was not the last time Paris had a curfew. In May of 1968, there was a general strike precipitated by University agitation against the excesses of capitalism and the right wing government. De Gaulle responded with a show of police force, which spurred riots and closed down parts of Paris, the government implementing a curfew.

One of the major slogans of May 1968 was Soyez réalistes, demandez l'impossible. ("Be realistic, demand the impossible"), an affront to the brand of "realism" that demanded a constant current of inequality, intolerance, and aggression.

The point of bringing this up is that nothing is inevitable at this point. The horror of war lingers in the air, but it is not written yet. Sometimes in the rush to respond, we get the details wrong. We fail to see the whole picture.

What happened in Paris is a massive tragedy. The death toll is gruesome, stultifying, and unacceptable. But for context, this same amount of people are murdered in the US by handguns every five days. As this took place, bombings also rocked Bagdhad and Beiruit. It's hard to resist the urge to sympathize with this tragedy only when it happens in the West, but this is the everyday reality for many in the globe. Often these incidents, such as the recent intentional bombing of a Medecin Sans Frontieres hospital, are done with US/European complicity.

Until we grieve those loses the same we grieve attacks on the West, the plans of terror regimes to bifurcate the world succeed. Until we paint our Facebook pictures in the color of every country wronged by violations of their biological right to life, we indirectly prioritize the supremacy of our own culture, even if we pay lip service declaring that "all lives matter".

But we can rise above, resist, and declare ourselves unified against any cretin who would kill to achieve political aims. Stop the spread of pain by declaring yourselves without borders and call out your government when it acts against the interests of this world community. Hold all murderers accountable. Demilitarize the planet.

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