I had the pleasure many years ago as a student of being in Paris during Bastille Day, their July 4th. It was a wonderful feeling. The city was alive with people out celebrating and everywhere that gorgeous French accent – excited, happy, chatter was echoing.
There is no more beautiful anthem than the French and that night "La Marseillaise" rang out wide, loud and clear. All the little kids were wild with excitement.
In 2016 they had much to celebrate this Bastille Day. The long lazy days of August when the civilized French retire for the month is beckoning. The European Soccer Championship had passed off without incident and France had enjoyed a great run to the final where they were unlucky to lose.The thought that terrorism was finally being contained must have been the fervent hope of every French person.
There was a celebration in Nice, on the city's famed promenade, with a fireworks display above. There were little children, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who were spending their last moments on earth, but fortunately they did not know that.
They were no match for the white truck careening along the promenade knocking people right and left, leaving bodies and lives destroyed with a madman firing guns at innocents as he began his drive of death.
Here is what we know about the deadly truck attack in #Nice pic.twitter.com/LbMeeOpLu7— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) July 15, 2016
It must take particularly cold blood to mow down children, mothers, innocents, all. But if there's one thing we have learned it is that these ISIS terrorists will stop at nothing. We live on “a darkling plain” nowadays, as the poet Matthew Arnold wrote in ”Dover Beach,” "where ignorant armies clash by night."
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The killer had to sit down and decide he was driving a white truck through a crowd of civilians killing everyone he could. It is a twisted, nihilistic mind that conjures up such hatred, such determination to kill. The age of enlightenment has never reached the Arab shores and a hideous and primitive hatred rules supreme.
“We can't imagine what they can do next,“ said one Nice resident on CNN. She’s right. They shot concert-goers in France, revelers in Nice, airport passengers in Istanbul, workmates in San Bernardino. No one is safe.
A single killer or lone wolf terrorism is the hardest to combat. Think of the crazy Jewish militant who murdered Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 on the verge of Middle East peace or the assassin Gavril Princip who killed Grand Duke Ferdinand to light the spark of the First World War.
American recounts 'pathway of bodies' after fireworks in #Nice https://t.co/bAWgnYjvI3 via @nbcsandiego #NiceFrance pic.twitter.com/txRvpdsAFd— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 15, 2016
How can the world combat these kind of soft target killings? The cry from Donald Trump was “do something, anything.” Hillary Clinton called for strategic vision and determination to tackle terrorism. Neither sounded convincing.
But people want action. Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, San Bernardino, Nice – all dreadful stops in this carnival of death.
But what action? There unfortunately are likely to be more Nice-like atrocities until we find a way.
We will and we must.