I have been to Paris three times in my life. On one trip, we rented a car and drove out into the countryside. It was like the movie, Two for the Road, we were free and open to adventure. No plans, no tourists, just Bob driving and me, trying to read an actual French map. We stayed at a small farm in Normandy. We tried talking with our hosts in their language, since they didn’t speak English, and with a little sign language we did just fine. In the City of Light, if we tried to speak French, Parisians were happy with our effort we could tell, but they would kindly switch to English.
On our last trip to Paris, we were visiting the Bride who was studying there for her Junior year of college. She and her BFF were staying in the atelier of a family’s home in the 16th Arrondisement. We could see the beautiful rooflines through her window under the eaves. We accompanied her to the studio where she was studying art. She took us to her favorite restaurants. Her host family welcomed us with champagne in their beautiful front parlor; a room with long windows filled with the kind of light Monet wanted to capture.
Today the civilized world is in mourning after last night’s horrific attacks in Paris. Young people going out to a rock concert, cheering on their soccer team in a stadium. I wondered if the Rocker had played at that venue, I worried for all the parents of students studying abroad. I thought of our exchange student, Stephanie, now a lawyer with three children. I sent a message to the friend of my niece, who opened her Paris home for shelter.
But most of all, I cried for the people of France, because these radical Muslim extremists have brought their insanity to the most beautiful city in the world for the second time this year.
I am sick and tired of talk. And I know we should not blame a whole religion, yet there is a sect, a radical piece of Islam that is using social media to recruit disaffected young men to their jihadist cause. It is a pernicious web, an internet spider capable of creating suicide bombers on every continent. We need to do something more to stop this, and more importantly, peaceful, moderate Muslims need to come together with the West and end their murderous crusade.
Last night I relived the time I waited to hear from the Bride on 9/11. The day she walked back to her apartment in Adams Morgan from her first job in a government building in Washington, DC. The day we Americans awoke to a new kind of warfare.