Posts Tagged: Paris

Nov 15

Why the Attack on Paris Makes Americans So Angry

There have been a number of sniffy self-righteous people delighting in being the first (they suppose) to ask “where was all the outrage and coverage when more than a hundred students were killed at a university in Kenya earlier this year? Why do we react like this to the Paris attacks?”

Actually, the April Kenya attack by the Al-Shabaab extremist cadre was widely covered here, and great sympathy and concern was expressed and everyone was upset about it, and the US govt sent investigative help. But it’s true we were not as focused on it as we are now on the Parisian attack. No, the reason isn’t racial (there are lots of black folk in America and France)–the reason is historical, cultural, geographical, and even familial.

I myself have twin sons who have dual French-American citizenship. Their mother, my ex, is French, their step-dad is French, they had two French grandparents. I lived in Paris with them…And I’m not alone in this. Many many Americans have connections in France–some are familial, some are close friendships; some connections are business or intellectual. Also, the French are our allies–have been since the Revolutionary War. We fought on their land, side by side with them, in WW1 and WW2. The French have been part of the coalition fighting Isis/Isil.

There’s also the vast cultural overlap, the cultural identity, we share with western Europe in general and especially the French. The English we speak includes countless French words…We’re influenced by French thinkers, writers, composers, film makers, artists; we glory in French cuisine. We vacation in France. Numerous Americans are descended from French immigrants. We have French-American schools here in America, and we have a variety of French spoken by many people in and around New Orleans. The French were among the very first to show their concern and support after 9/11. I could go on and on…We are interlaced with the French, as well as the British and the rest of Europe–it’s not skin color, it’s history. It’s family in more ways than one–and it’s natural that we feel the attack on them is an attack on us.