Paris burning is different. Yes, there is death and destruction the world over but sadly you expect death and destruction in certain places. You expect Venezuelan drug violence, kids to be shot on the south side of Chicago. You have no shock at seeing Beirut and Syria bombed. You expect the Boku Haram to kidnap girls and bomb towns. It has become their status quo. You expect Libya and Egypt to strum the steady yet consistent beat of mayhem that has become an all too familiar chord. You even expect school shootings in some random small town in America. But most places in the western world aside from the US enjoy an almost blissful peace.
Yes there is violence, but rare. The chaos that has permeated so much of life in the Middle East, parts of Cetral America, and parts of Eastern Europe and Africa are mere background noise on Al Jezeera whilst waiting for a soccer match to start. Something so foreign it may as well be on mars wrapped in the unclear understanding of exactly why immigrants are fleeing their homeland -fleeing the insanity.
The West …Paris was this sanctuary from insanity. Yes, France owes much of its prosperity to slavery, imperialism, and colonialism, but it is also where Josephine Baker fled to get away from the foot on her neck of Jim Crow in the United States. Where Baldwin and Hughes were able to write unfettered by historical context rendering them fractions of people.
The recent terrorist shootings and suicide bombers in Paris, killed scores of people and injured hundreds more, but it also killed the sanctuary. Paris burning is the husband you thought you knew. Steady consistent, reliable, suddenly slaughtering his entire family. The fallacy of safety is shattered. A land where despite conflict with recent African immigrants and even more recent refugees, was a place someone could enjoy a meal and a concert on a Friday fall night free from the threat of a violent death. That sense of freedom and pursuit of unfettered happiness is gone. Paris will never be the same and that shift is the difference.