I wonder what Napoleon would say if he saw Macron’s France. He might offer a few suggestions like “ditch this crappy electro ‘music’” and “burn Louis Vuitton bags” between bites of his favorite chicken fricassée. But it’s more likely that whatever he said would be drowned out by Parisian pleas for mercy during an invasion and sacking that would make the month-and-a-half Fall of France seem an eternity.
Heck, the Emperor’s Third Coming might be even faster and more embarrassing than celebrity gangster Redoine Faid’s Sunday escape from prison, which the French Ministry of Justice admitted took “only a few minutes.”
It’s not the first time the thief has broken out of prison, but this time he didn’t even have to use explosives, instead breaking free bloodlessly via hijacked helicopter. Why bloodlessly? Well, it turns out that the guards at Reau Prison were completely unarmed, a situation so dubious and just pathetic that the producers of 24 would’ve spiked it from the script.
Speaking of Fox’s eight-season serial thriller, Faid bears a distinct resemblance to Season 6 antagonist Abu Fayed. They have similar names, they’re both baldies with rather sharp, well-kempt appearances, and they both humiliated the hell out of the government agencies that attempted to capture and detain them. Except, you know, one of those agencies wasn’t fictional.
After completing a ten-year sentence in 2009, Redoine — whose name is, coincidentally, an anagram for the state his country is in: a “dire one” — publicly renounced his criminal past, wrote a confessional, and embarked on a massive media tour. His ploy was no doubt aided by the “words speak louder than actions” mindset to which seemingly every Western nation has succumbed.
The French government seems obsessed with such drivel, voting in May to fine cat-callers 90 to 750 euros. French Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa, whom I’m sure earns no more than she should, said, “There is some reluctance. Some say we will kill the culture of the ‘French lover’ if we punish street harassment.”
And that’s troubling.
For if your country isn’t exactly known for its military prowess, the least you can do is embrace its affinity for romance until your happy little masquerade gets blown to bits by bombs and burqas. Because don’t forget, the same mystifying indiscretion that resulted in Faid’s escape has manifested itself on a national scale with France’s approach to a little problem called radical Islamic terrorism.
For all of his tactical brilliance, Napoleon might have thought twice before saying, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich” if he’d lived to see that we’re not even a fifth of the way through the 21st century, and terrorism has already claimed 40 per cent more lives in la Metropole than it did during the entire 1900s.
Is it a lack of resources that enabled Faid and ISIS? If so, perhaps Macron should consider diverting some of Schiappa’s paycheck to security measures. And since things like “hate speech” apparently equal violence nowadays, let me clear: I mean security from bullets and weaponized trucks, not nasty words. Or has a certain politically correct cowardice crippled the country? Sadly, that particular malady seems to have the singular treatment of exposure therapy.
Hey, I love France as much as the next guy who ruled his high school French department with an iron fist (read: teacher’s pet who got picked, not by popular vote, to head French Club and Honor Society). And that’s why I’d hate to see its culinary, linguistic, and architectural ingenuity toppled by criminals and worse, who’ve caught a whiff of a nation that will prioritize sensitivity over safety.
Between offering certain positions to everyone but white people and mysteriously neglecting to cover Muslim grooming gang stories, the BBC found some time to profile Faid. It turns out that the thief extraordinaire is influenced by Hollywood heist and gangster flicks like Scarface and Heat. And so it would seem as though the fugitive is a walking, talking, law enforcement-mocking embodiment of anti-mimesis, Oscar Wilde’s notion that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”
“Be what you see” is an aspirational ideal, to be sure. But while it gins up clicks galore for us journalists, politicians would be idiots to sit back and allow people to reenact all of their most cherished cinema scenes. The same thing goes for terrorists who wish to make reality conform to their holy texts. It’s France’s call whether it will blast this message loud and clear or risk more of a very different sort of blasting.
Votre choix, Macron. Your choice.