Theos researcher says “surrender now”

A researcher at the godbothering thinktank “Theos” wrote a blog post saying France should stop being so stubborn and just do what the murderers want, dammit.

After each attack the security services and beefed up. After each atrocity gallons of ink are spilt about whether it is time to rethink laïcité (the famous French model of secularism) or the nature of Republic French values.

That’s how badly he writes. Apologies for making you read it.

If it’s true that after each atrocity gallons of ink are spilt about whether it is time to rethink laïcité, then people should save their ink, or rather their keyboard tapping. No, it is not time to rethink laïcité, nor is it time to rethink women’s rights or LGB rights or Kashmir or anything else the murderers may or may not be Aggrieved about. No, one does not respond to mass murder by doing what one thinks the murderers want.

But as for real change to have come from these tragedies? It seems like the increasing militarization of public spaces, with more and more armed police and soldiers, has been the only meaningful consequence. The lack of change, or at least the sense of a French state finding a way forward, creates a collective hopelessness and a helplessness. Tragedy fatigue is real; the more tragedies that occur without prompting a change the less willpower there will be to create something. There is a remarkable capacity to accept even the most appalling situations as normal.

It’s quite remarkable what Ben Ryan is saying there. He’s complaining about France’s failure to change at the behest of mass murderers. He’s saying that failure to change at the behest of mass murderers creates hopelessness – as if there were a universal desire for France to do what the murderers want. He’s saying the mass murders – the “tragedies” – should prompt change.

This is the moment to call for a new approach to French society and secularism. It is now, surely, clear to anyone with eyes to see that the hopes of creating a purely civil identity in which religion and race are irrelevant are failed. It is time the French state begins recording data on the religion of its citizens, so that it can see how trends are emerging and be responsive to the reality on the streets, not just vague assumptions and prejudices.

It’s time to question again whether aspects of laïcité that seem to disproportionately hurt minority faiths (and especially Islam) are a sensible approach to pluralism and to remove those aspects that are doing more harm than good at fostering integration. Schools need the freedom to address religious and identity issues in the classroom. It’s time to stop pretending that Frenchness can sweep these issues under the carpet and start “doing religion”, not just opposing extremism.

He reminds me of that nice Maréchal Pétain who shook hands with Hitler so politely that one time.

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