Police patrol near the Eiffel Tower the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris. (photo: Reuters)
14 November 15
ir travel used to bestow a kind of immunity. Wheels up into the blackening sunset, and the world couldn’t touch you. The office couldn’t call. Nobody could find you. It was a three-hour recess from the news and cares and pain of the world. Of course, this odd place of solace has gone the way of free baggage check-in and actual food in coach. The technology has given the world a longer, deeper reach. So, if you choose, you can sit on a plane over a dark, anonymous planet and get the news of an impeccably organized murder half a world away.
French radio reporter Julien Pearce was inside the Bataclan theater when gunmen entered. Two men dressed in black started shooting what he described as AK-47s, and after wounded people fell to the floor, the two gunmen shot them again, execution-style, he said. The two men didn’t wear masks and didn’t say anything. The gunfire lasted 10 to 15 minutes, sending the crowd inside the small concert hall into a screaming panic, said Pearce, who escaped. He said he saw 20 to 25 bodies lying on the floor. The hostage situation at the Bataclan continued early Saturday. One of the explosions at the Stade de France outside Paris appears to be a suicide bombing, a Western intelligence source receiving direct intelligence from the scene told CNN’s Deb Feyerick. A dismembered body, consistent with the aftermath of an explosion from that type of device, was found at the scene, the source said.
There is no question that it will get worse as they move toward dawn in Paris. There is no question that it will get worse as the days turn into months and the months into years. Barbarians have laid siege to an entire European city for one of the first times since Rome fell. The body count will climb. The retribution will be swift and harsh, as will the inevitable reaction, and as will the retribution for the reaction. And the events of the day will be fed into the armored, blind triviality of the ongoing American election, and into the utterly corrupted American political system, and into the carefully cultivated timidity and faithlessness that all of these things have combined to make out of the American democracy over the past 15 years. Something awful has happened in Paris. Out of it will be born something awful in the collective mind and the collective heart and the collective soul. I wish I weren’t so sure of this, but the planet looks awfully black from up here, and it doesn’t look any different if you close your eyes.