Us vs. Them: Remembering the Parisian Night of Terror

One year and a day ago today, the city of Paris was struck with one of the bloodiest attacks on it since the German invasion of France in World War Two. Let that thought simmer in your mind for a little. And while you’re spending some time thinking about it, have a black and white World War 2 photo of Germans in France to help you visualize how long that’s been.

s_w01_00621047The Germans sure loved to pose with their tanks.

I think it’s safe to say that it has been awhile for France. Known as the November 2015 Paris Attacks, where terrorists conducted coordinated suicide bombings and mass shootings throughout the city of Paris. The scale and coordination of this attack rattled the many nations around the world. ISIS/ISIL took responsibility. Many of the Western nations responded to this attack by standing together and swearing vengeance on ISIS. The Us vs. Them mentality grew even stronger, and that reminded me of what we’ve been learning in lecture recently. You know, the whole Clash of Civilizations idea and barbarians. This blog post will be covering the events that unfolded and the aftereffects of the attack, through the lens of humanities core.

I still remember where I was as the news unfolded. I was in my AP Human Geography class, and my phone went off. It was the New York Times app breaking a story that a shooting had occurred in Paris. This was a class where news like this was pretty relevant as we had often covered stories about the war raging on in Syria. My teacher saw the news as well and announced what was happening to the class. As class went on so did the body count as the story continued to unfold. The attacks would end up leaving more than 100 dead, and hundreds more wounded. Many of my fellow students, myself included were appalled and horrified.

In the days that followed, everyone sent their love and support to France, and the Western World stood ever so closer together.

bn-lg784_1115pa_j_20151115213735The amount of support shown for the victims is equally beautiful and heartbreaking. 

Originally passive countries offered military support to France in combatting ISIS. The Us vs. Them or terrorists mentality became even stronger.  People saw this as a group of savages attacking Democracy and our way of life. Obama responded to this attack, calling it an “attack on all of humanity.”As this kind of thinking grew stronger, so did support for conservative policies. As the media started trying to link these attackers to those groups of migrants fleeing the Middle East, more and more people called for the tightening of borders and stronger immigration policies. Despite many Muslim leaders and officials condemning these attacks, ISIS had successfully struck fear into hearts of many. This fear would turn irrational for lots of people, resulting in all the calls for tighter immigration policies for many nations. It was the fact that these “terrorists” were able to hit a place so far away from all the violence, meant that they were that much closer to our homes, our families and loved ones. And where were they coming from? Many of them were in fact Belgian and French citizens, though several of them exploited the immigration crisis to enter. However, people were already scared enough, and the fact that these terrorists exploited the immigration crisis was enough for some. EU countries among others questioned their promises to take in Syrian refugees because of this.

These effects can still be seen today, in America, where Trump among many other conservatives have called for the US to not take in any refugees and to even go as far as to stop all Muslims from immigrating over. This kind of fear is very reminiscent of what we have seen in Waiting for the Barbarians. Inhabitants of the empire have their own irrational fear of “barbarians”. Where those “barbarians” never had a chance to set foot into the empire, simply because the empire blindly equates all outsiders as savages. We as a nation, as a international community, cannot fall into the same flawed logic of the empire we see in Waiting for the Barbarians. To discriminate against an entire peoples for the actions of the few is the worst thing to do in a time where the world needs solidarity and peace the most.


The article that inspired me to write this.



3 thoughts on “Us vs. Them: Remembering the Parisian Night of Terror

  1. I enjoyed reading this post and liked how you gave a historical context to Paris attacks, but then tied it back into readings we are doing in class as well as the current political situation. I agree that the logic behind Trump’s method to trying to prevent terrorist attacks is certainly flawed, and you showed several connections to a similar logic being prevalent in many different time periods.


  2. I remember the impact that the attacks left on everyone. It became a bandwagon. That might’ve been a point you could’ve added; how the widespread attention through social media desensitized the importance of what really happened. Bringing up Trump’s method made your blog really relatable to what society is going through today because of his ignorance. Your interpretation of the attacks made the situation in “Waiting for the Barbarians” more understandable. Thanks for the read!


  3. This was a good read! I liked how you gave historical background, details about your own reaction, and how you connected the event to Trump, making it more relatable as a current event.


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