Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts on terrorism

Well, that's quite the weighty post title... and I may now disappoint you. I have no intention of taking a real stand here, but this recent review in Bookforum (thanks, Michael!) really struck home with me, and reminded me of my favourite moment from Obama's inauguration speech.

The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Si├Ęcle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror, by John Merriman, is about the rise of anarchism in France in the 1870s and 80s. In his review of the book, Christopher Cox writes that "terrorism has proved to be a minor theme in the history of the Third Republic. Could the same eventually be said about terrorism in this republic?" Cox highlights Merriman's own admission about the temptation of drawing parallels (it's "irresistible") and ends the review by quoting from Merriman's final chapter, where he notes the French government’s move, after the death of Emile Henry, "from executions to amnesty for most radicals, from the use of repression to “the power to convince.” That alone, rather than the thud of the guillotine’s blade, ended the cycle of violence."

Indeed. We will extend a hand, and all that. It's all a matter of who does what first.

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