My French brother-in-law recently sent me links to videos of two young French Muslims of North African descent inveighing against crimes committed in the name of religion. They were unmistakably angry and sincere. Interestingly, they said it was up to us—that is to say, we, the Muslims of France—to counteract the evil that was besmirching the name and reputation of millions of our coreligionists. It was a brave performance, because neither of them disguised himself. They probably know many people who—to put it mildly—disagree with them. One could easily imagine them being targeted by extremists. My brother-in-law (whose son was in…
One of the greatest plays of the 20th century, at least of those known to me, is Max Frisch’s The Fire Raisers (1953). Written in the aftermath of the Second World War as an attempt to explain (and to warn) how a patent evil like Nazism can triumph in a civilized society, this play does what only great literature can do: suggest the universal while using the particular.
Its protagonist, Biedermann, is a comfortable bourgeois living in a town that is beset by several mysterious acts of arson. He is visited at home by Schmitz, a hawker, who half-persuades, half-intimidates his way into an invitation to lodge in Biedermann’s attic, and who soon brings a second hawker, Eisenring, to stay in the house.
By now the story of Omar Ismail Mostefai, the first of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks to be named, is depressingly familiar. One could almost have written his biography before knowing anything about him. A petty criminal of Algerian parentage from what all the world now calls the banlieue, he was sustained largely by the social security system, an erstwhile fan of rap music, and a votary of what might be called the continuation of criminality by other means, which is to say Islamism and the grandiose purpose in life that it gives to its adherents.
The attacks in Paris have left EU-elites remarkably unwavered in their beliefs. Jean-Claude Juncker stated on Sunday that there was no need to change the EU’s immigration agenda, while Guy Verhofstadt argued for ‘a common anti-terrorism capacity’ and even ‘a European CIA’. This absence of self-doubt pairs with a call for ‘more Europe’ in the face of clear policy failure.