This is apparently the new slogan of resistance in Paris. A collective of graffiti artists painted it on La République — one of my old neighborhoods; I don’t live there anymore. (And yes, I’ll for once call them artists; this was artistic. Usually I’m in favor of arresting them promptly on broken-windows policing principles, but there are exceptions.)
The cartoonist Joann Sfar published this version on Instagram:
This phrase is the motto of Paris. It means, roughly, “tossed by the waves, but not sunk.” You can see it in the city’s coat of arms. It derives from the Seine boatsman’s corporation, the Marchands de l’eau. They were a Middle Ages hanse, an organization of merchants (as in the Hanseatic League), organized in 1170 to control all trade conducted on the Seine River. Its jurisdiction was — in principle — limited to commerce, but you know how these things go; they became powerful enough to organize a whole city government outside the reach of the French crown. An uprising in 1383 forced them to disband, and they never regrouped. But Paris has been well and truly fluctuat since then, nec mergitur.
I like the slogan for a few reasons, but among them is the message: We’ve been around since the Romans. You’ve been a caliphate since June 29, 2014, we believe?
It’s not all bravado around here, mind you. My friend Arun wrote a blog post that might interest you. I keep inviting him to join Ricochet, but he keeps insisting he doesn’t want to, because he’s a leftist. I’ve yet to be able to figure out how this genuinely matters to the cases in which we disagree. (We often do.) We agree about many things, too. I agree with most of what he wrote here:
In lieu of a lengthy analysis—which would be premature at this early point—a few comments. First, where the attacks took place. The 10th and 11th arrondissements were not chosen at random. This part of Paris—and the eastern part of the city more generally—was historically populaire (working class) but has been transformed over the past two decades. It’s become a hip area, with an active nightlife and cool bars and restaurants frequented mainly by young people (20s/early 30s): hipsters, students, and young professionals, and of all ethnic origins. The evening ambiance in that part of the city is great. And it’s more lively that what I’ve seen in London. The Islamic State terrorists targeted that area precisely because of what it is and symbolizes. …
I’m not sure of this. Doesn’t seem likely to me that the Islamic State has it out for hipsters, per se. We understand the part about targeting Jews and cartoonists perfectly; we certainly understand going after major economic targets like air travel; we understand the Year Zero fanaticism of destroying millennium’s worth of cultural heritage — yeah, got your point there, savages — and we maybe understand the Bataclan, knowing of your hatred of music and dancing and joy, but Le Petit Cambodge? Who knew you had a bug up your collective jihadi asses about family-run Cambodian restaurants? During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will eat Lok Lak out of little cubes of perfumed, marinated beef in soy sauce accompanied by lemon juice and salt, along with a bowl of rice, so, wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection, verily, the mercy of God is nigh unto those who do well? Nope, that one’s not in the Quran or the hadiths. I looked. So I can’t figure out your thinking there, frankly. Except that you’re clearly savages.
Second, though only one of the eight dead terrorists has been formally identified as I write, there can be no doubt that the operation was conceived and led by Frenchmen—by persons who grew up in the Paris area, have an intimate knowledge of the city, and are no doubt French citizens from birth.
My instinct says so, too. You have to have a particularly local sensibility to shoot up La Belle Équippe. Tourists would have gone for the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. As I write, we now know that at least two of them were French. Brothers, in fact.
Non-French jihadists could have never hatched this plot. One may also safely assume that the terrorists were radicalized not in mosques or by jihadist imams but via the Internet …
Could be both. They weren’t radicalized by the imams who were singing the Marseillaise outside the Bataclan today. For those of you who want to hear local Muslims eager to string up terrorists from lampposts, here they are:
and that most, if not all of them, have been in Syria or some other MENA war zone.
Sounds highly plausible.
The sale and private possession of assault weapons are, as one knows, illegal in France, though they can be had via traffickers (mainly from the Balkans). But to learn to use them in the way the terrorists did last night involves training and practice that would be difficult to do in France without being detected, but that they would obviously get in Syria.
Sounds highly plausible to me.
So France and other European states, in protecting themselves from the Islamic State death cult, absolutely need to shut down, to the extent possible, the route to Syria via Turkey, by, entre autres, formally telling the Turks to stop admitting EU nationals with national ID cards only (and not passports), to issue visas at their borders, and to agree—in return for the substantial aid Turkey will be receiving from the EU to deal with the refugees there—to a discreet European police presence working with their Turkish counterparts on the Syrian border. This won’t entirely solve the problem but it will help a great deal.
Yes. It won’t entirely solve the problem, no — the problem being that we seem to have quite a large cohort of French citizens who are readily radicalized on the Internet, think it a good idea to fly to Syria to get the world’s best terrorism training and practice, then come home to use it on the local home-cooked Cambodian eatery — but every little bit helps, I guess.
Third—and something I was thinking last night—is the huge failure this represents on the part of the French intelligence services.
Ya think, Arun? You and the rest of Paris. We’re all wondering what they’ve been doing with themselves lately besides standing on the streets looking like they’re about to go on a safari.
For such a complex, coordinated sequence of terrorist attacks—and involving at least eight, and certainly more, persons—to happen in the heart of Paris, less than a year after Charlie Hebdo-Hyper Cacher and without the police or intelligence apparatus getting wind of it, is a debacle for the French state. And particularly in view of the reinforced Vigipirate deployment since the attacks in January, with ever more soldiers in jungle fatigues with their machine guns—that may or may not be loaded (which would be incredibly stupid either way)—on the streets and transportation hubs. Vigipirate, like the TSA in the US, is useless security theater almost exclusively designed to reassure the public. And it’s a huge waste of money and of the soldiers’ time and training; and, as we have seen, it can’t thwart a mega terrorist attack.
I couldn’t agree more.
But Vigipirate will, of course, only be reinforced. No president of the republic or prime minister will dare rethink it, let alone scrap.
Fourth, the reaction of the public to this attack is likely to be different from the ones in January. In the latter, there was a big rally the evening of the 7th at the Place de la République and with the banner reading “Not Afraid.” People are now afraid. And then there was the “Je suis Charlie” and that was countered by the “Je ne suis pas Charlie,” by those who did not like Charlie Hebdo or identify with the January 11th marches—and this included a sizable portion of France’s 4+ million-strong Muslim population. There is no such cleavage now. Viewing the comments threads of two virulent, high-profile “Je ne suis pas Charlie”-type Facebook pages I follow, Oumma.com and the Parti des Indigènes de la République, since last night has revealed a markedly different tone from what one normally gets from the fans—French Muslims and/or Maghrebis in their near totality—of those two pages—conspiracy theories, vitriol, and hate: toward France, America, and, bien évidemment, “Zionists”—and particularly after the attacks last January. Even the more alienated, resentful members of that population are genuinely horrified by what happened last night and know that they are eventual targets of terrorism along with everyone else. On this, a friend posted on social media this tract from the Islamic State, telling Muslims in the West that, in effect, they must either adhere to the IS and its conception of Islam or “apostatize” and adopt the “kufri” (infidel) religion of the West. In other words, Muslims in France must get off the fence and choose their camp. It goes without saying that, if presented with that choice, the huge majority will side with the “kuffars.” As they say, it’s a no brainer. …
I suspect you’re right.
The fear level in France is going to increase, no doubt about it, as will the repressive capacity of the state (which results axiomatically when a country is “at war” (en guerre), as President Hollande and everyone else is now saying France is. …
Yes, I expect it will.
Other observations: Sirens outside, helicopters overhead. Intermittently. I wish my brother would go back to Bamako, where it’s safe.
Everyone I saw today was red-eyed. But again, I spent most of the day in the cardiac wing of a hospital, where people have other reasons to be red-eyed. It was eerie to walk down the hall. Everyone was watching the same television station from their hospital beds. You heard the same broadcast from each room, and the same words about the mounting death toll, accompanied by the same beep-beep-beep from everyone’s cardiac monitors. Otherwise, silence.
Had I been feeling more in the mood to be a journalist, I’d have recorded the sound. But I wasn’t.