Why, of all cities, of all landmarks, of all places, why did the Islamists attack Paris?
Let’s start with the basics. They’re fighting for something. Something big, something worth dying over. Something so valuable they think it’s worth killing other people. And that something has to do with Paris.
So what is Paris?
It’s the world capital of fashion, food, and art. It’s the city of love. It is also the city of tolerance and liberalism. Paris — if nothing else — stands for free society.
That is why Paris is under attack.
It is being targeted not for its policies as a country, but for its principles as people.
Principles such as “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights” and “The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man” — progressive philosophy taken straight from France’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, albeit a little sexist. Poignantly, the document also includes references to faith, as in “No one may be disturbed for his opinions, even religious ones.”
That is what the attackers are against. That is what the Islamists — practicers of the most militant form of Islam — so vehemently oppose. Freedom of religion.
As Americans, Israelis, and upholders of politics based on human rights, we need to recognize this attack for what it is: An affront to our values. What is being attacked is culture. Because it is more than a coincidence that the city ISIS chose to make its mark on first is the capital of Western thought.
So why Paris? Because Paris is us.