The emotion for the massacre of Paris is seething. In Paris I studied. I found friends for life. I suffered the disappearance of the great masters. I worked. I spent some wonderful moments with my loved ones.
I cry for the massacre.
I listen to the real experts’ recipes and I hope they will find a sensible solution. I can only think. And here is what I think. It is not the first time that this sort of thing happens. We were not always victims. The Europeans have often done the same to other people in the past.
When British politicians and soldiers fired on the crowd calling for non-violent Indian independence on April 13, 1919. When the German dictator ordered the Holocaust, starting with the Nuremberg Laws of 15 September 1935. When the Italian dictatorship killed people in Ethiopia using chemical weapons (Metaferia). Now we have started to undergo a treatment very similar, from 11 September 2001 to 13 November 2015, from New York to Paris.
Europeans have felt shame. And in the future also the peoples of the Middle East will be as ashamed of this horror.
Calling this thing a “war” is a choice. It offers an opportunity to strengthen the European power and the States power. It provides a key to understanding this thing as a conflict between organized “States”. But it is not enough. It is not exact. You need the right words to define what’s happening and what we must do. Of course, since there is Isis posing as a state we can say that this is a war: but we know it is not just a war. Who will declare it finished?
It is not a question only of States. It’s a question of society, power groups, networks of relationships based on fear, silence, arrogance, credulity, desperation. For us it is a matter of assertion of civil values. Identify the enemy is the only way to win. It is estimated that the perpetrators of the Holocaust were about 200 thousand people of about 65 million Germans at the time (Dan Stone, Histories of the Holocaust. Oxford New York, 2011). And the terrorists are a minority among the hundreds of millions of people living in the Middle East. We know how it is with the mafia: it takes 2,000 armed people to influence the fate of a region of 5 million people in a terrible way. The enemy is not a Middle Eastern nation, but an organization of power.
Connivance, fears, habits, laziness, make the few violent determined to seize power enormously stronger. Demonstrations of violence as those perpetrated in Europe by ISIS serve to reinforce that power and those relationships of fear and complicity from which emerge the new recruits. The fascination of a spectacular horror attracts the desperate because it suggests that they can be leaders. That is the time when the violent ones obtain recognition of their power.
We can and must respond by defending ourselves against other attacks on our cities. We can invent forms of control that save freedom and security together. We can understand that the chances of new attacks can be reduced but unfortunately not cancelled. We can better control the borders, perhaps. We can even think of intervening in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq if we have a true and clear goal. But the only chance of winning this enemy is by eliminating the causes of the despair of those who are attracted to the violent solution to feel protagonists. It’s an emergency, but a solution can only arise from a long term strategy. In which our values – if we can develop a more non-violent society, a more attractive culture, a more equal economy – make inroads into the hearts of the others by providing better answers than those proposed by the terrorists.
Sooner or later they will be ashamed of what they did. As Europeans have learned to be ashamed of what we did. Let us remember our history to show a perspective to others.