January 9, 2015
No one wants a tragedy, but it’s happened. No matter how many times we write “Je suis Charlie” on Facebook, we cannot avoid what’s already passed. We need to survey the damage and look to the aftershock.
My greatest fear that this action becomes fuel for France’s already potent far right. National tragedies have historically been a strong asset to those who would stoke the fires of hate to power their own political engines. Even if it doesn’t translate into electoral success for France and Europe’s far right, it could increase the trend of Europe’s mainstream parties courting extremist populism.
However, I think there is an opportunity here for those who favour deeper integration. With the widespread media-coverage of this event, it has become apparent that Europe is insecure from within and without. Couple this notion with the general economic instability and you have an environment fertile for creating dynamic change.
People are scared and they’re looking for answers, and the right-winged parties are poised to take advantage of that because they can promise solutions that they, thankfully, are not in a position to deliver on. The EU is in a position to deliver on offering solutions– it just isn’t disposed to doing it in a dramatic or timely fashion. Someone needs to step up and with fire and conviction say “I have an answer to the chaos!” They need to take this fear and turn it into inspiration before others turn it into fear.
Borrowing a hypothesis from another entry, France is the key to military integration in Europe. It’s there that Charlie Hebdo, as we’ve come to call the crisis, is going to do the most damage. So in France is where we need to find our leadership in any efforts to salvage what we can; in doing so, we might stem the tide against directed xenophobia.
Europe has a choice. We can lick our wounds and sit in shock or we can take action or we can take up the standard and stand boldly against those who would threaten our hard-earned freedoms. These are the days after Charlie Hebdo, we can choose to show the best of who we are or the worst. I choose the best.C. Shannon