Against the Law

Credit where credit is due: President Hollande—who until then had never seemed à la hauteur, as the French say, of his exalted position, appearing more like the deputy head of a lycée in Limoges than a head of state—made an excellent speech before both houses of the French parliament after the terrorist attacks of Nov. 13. It added, temporarily, cubits to his stature.

But one speech doesn’t make a policy; and one knew, of course, that the unanimity expressed by the standing ovation with which his speech was received could not last. Luckily, indeed, our countries are not given to lasting expressions of unanimity, the deliberate preservation of our peaceful divisions being what the struggle with Muslim fundamentalism is all about. The Muslim fundamentalists, like other would-be dictators, have a one-eyed or cyclopean view of what life is all about and believe moreover that everyone else is blind. Their stupidity is matched only by their arrogance.

However, it does not follow from the fact that we are, as we should be, divided about many things that our governments’ policies should be incoherent and vacillating. One of President Hollande’s promises in his speech was that French nationality would be withdrawn from convicted terrorists with dual nationality, French and other, even if they were born in France.

No one could suppose that this measure would solve the terrorist problem, or even make a major contribution to its solution. A man who is prepared to blow himself up is not likely to be deterred from detonating himself, and for ‎every suicide bomber there must be many terrorists and organizers of terrorists who are not quite so keen on losing their lives, and for whom the threat of the withdrawal of their passport might be more serious since they could then be deported to the country of their other nationality, and it seems that few Muslim fundamentalists brought up in the West want to live permanently in a Muslim country.

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