With the truth, you need to get rid of it as soon as possible and pass it on to someone else. As with illness, this is the only way to be cured of it. The person who keeps truth in his hands has lost.
Paris has now suffered two terrorists attacks within a year, and France is three train-traveling Americans away from having suffered a third. Governments cannot and should not sustain this kind of record of failure.
Yet we in America know first-hand that governments can and do sustain such records all the time. The citizens America loses to domestic multiple shooting incidents in a year exceeds the tragic losses France has had in the past single year. There may be, in short, nothing that America can reasonably say to France with regards to violence and failures of State.
We also know first-hand that governments, by politicizing terror, can cause their own nations nearly limitless additional grief after a terrorist act.
When I wrote The Plasma of Terror, about a time of similar troubles, I tried to write a book not especially about a terrorist event but about the psychic troubles attendant to an aftermath of sustained botched politics: a time that is maddening, confusing, paranoiac, farcical, and sometimes even comic in an unintended way, leading to everyone from diplomats to academics to poets making too-hasty decisions. A debasing time in which we seem helpless to live by a plasma-screen script handed to us by opportunistic politicians is nearly always the whole point of the terrorist act. (In fact, though the time is of the fallout immediately after 9/11, the key event in the book that lends all the paranoia to its characters occurs not in America but in Paris). I referenced much of the French thinker Baudrillard's ideas on history in such a time, and included the quote of his as one of the book's epigraphs.
Potentially unfortunately for France, Hollande, an unpopular president as Bush was unpopular in his first nine months, appears to be sold on the path of asymmetric rhetoric at minimum already, calling last night's crimes an "acte de guerre, commis par une armée terroriste." He may even be recalling how his dismal approval rating suddenly rose in the wake of a tough-barking response to the Charlie Hebdo tragedy of January of this year). He has closed both borders and museums in the response.Borders, museums, cultural activities – it it indeed too often the truth itself that disappears in the wake of a terror event. It is a time that invites Patriot Acts, false dichotomies, political polarizing, subtle scapegoating, asymmetric warfare, domestic surveillance, a fall from unity to internal vilification, national security fetishes and their complementary Snowdens.
Before 9/11, there was no such state as the one Hollande has identified as responsible; now Hollande after 13.11, as Bush before him, is identifying a state rather than an organization as responsible for the actions. America knows too well one thing about such fingering in the wake of terror: we elevate organizations to national status by responding to their actions as state actions. France and especially Paris would do well to recall Baudrillard's adage in this time of soul-searching, and not to conceal truths, truths about what is foreign to it and truths about itself, but always to pass truths on, as quickly as possible. This may be all we have to say to Paris and France about their own prospective time of troubles; this, and please, go slowly, consider deeply what you are doing, and don't do things for mere political gain.