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Letter from Santa Clara

Paris: Living with Neo-Terror

By Bill Costley

I'd never experienced European neo-terror until I was in Paris in 1985. (On August 9,  1982, the bombing of Paris' Rue des Rosiers by the Abu Nidal faction had left 6 dead, 22 wounded.)

As a member the National Writers' Union-Boston local, I was making initial face-to-face contacts with our peer unions in Paris, at Radio France on the right bank. Suddenly, I came upon one of Balzac's many short-term addresses (all with commemorative placques) from which he'd fled for lack of funds, usually a few steps ahead of the police, often out the back window, descending by rope ladder. This was one of his small houses, set a few feet just below the street, in its own little parklet; you had to descend a little set of stairs to enter it.

Right across the street was a children's school; it was just letting out, guarded by a squad of machine-gun toting French paratroopers in combat-cammies (not midnight-blue genderme capes), so I asked the Balzac house curator: what was going on? She said it was just a diplomats' children's school. Guarded by armed paratroops? Is this what life in The City of Light is like now? Obviously yes.

Well, this is what it's like now, here, on mainland USA. Welcome to the belated metropolitan present. All it takes is a few (terrorist) bombings to change any metropolitan atmosphere considerably. It goes with the imperial condition.

Among other things I take now exception to here is the preemptive slogan: "Everything Is Changed"  which I instantly took as a politically motivated counter-terror slogan. Look, if all's changed, then we were demonstrably vacuous airheads before this.

Frankly, the Brits ought to tell us to shut & shape up: what they went thru in WW2 was more spectacular than 9/11 by many magnitudes, but it takes mainland Americans to suck the whole world into their metropolitan trip. Look, the WTC was bombed a few years ago. Why wasn't NYC fully prepared for a re-run? Why was the civil air-defense so ineffective? People are to blame.

This is just more proof of what's hopelessly wrong with Bush2 & Co. Their incompetence feeds into compensatory neo-imperial wars: we've gotta save the world by war because we got zapped at home. Listen, they know we're gonna get zapped again: the RNC, via Cheney, is already pre-blaming Kerry, because you know sure-as-hell they won't ever blame Bush2, their savior of the neo-world!

metropole (French) = metropolis, a capital-city of an empire.

Although Bill Costley has moved from Paris to Santa Clara, he is still a member of the National Writers' Union.