Opinion Editorial

After Nice, resist the fear of terrorism

 Postmedia Network

French police officers search a truck in a street of Nice on July 15, 2016, near the building where the man who drove a truck into a crowd watching a fireworks display the day before reportedly lived. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)

French police officers search a truck in a street of Nice on July 15, 2016, near the building where the man who drove a truck into a crowd watching a fireworks display the day before reportedly lived. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)

At what point are the prayers falling on deaf ears?

In France, another attack has left dozens dead. French President François Hollande says 50 more are hovering between life and death. It isn't even the first attack of the month -- a little more than two weeks into July, hundreds are dead worldwide from terror, from and Bangladesh to Iraq, and now mass murder has come again to the West.

Of what variety, it's hard to say. Early pictures suggest the man behind the attack was little more than a loser and petty criminal. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility; there is no word on political motivation.

To what extent, then, this is a classically defined terrorist attack is an open question. Whatever the motivations and affiliations, the deaths in Nice are unspeakably tragic and the attack terrifying.

This time, it wasn't a suicide bomber, as it was last month in Turkey. It was a truck, its driver carving a swath of destruction through 30,000 revellers on Bastille Day -- the French holiday celebrating the beginning of the end of despotism. The symbolism, there, is dark.

In the City of Light last year, gunmen struck at those out on the town. In Dhaka, terrorists struck at the end of Ramadan.

The purpose of terrorism isn't the body count, though there's certainly that too. The point is to make us all afraid, to tear at society itself, and make it cower.

There will be funerals, in days to come. And mourning. And vigils for the dead. And calls for solidarity and for French society to collectively tackle its divisions and contradictions. The political far right, in another dark twist, will be grossly energized, as it always is by terrorism.

For the average person, there is but resistance -- to square the shoulders and refuse to allow terrorism to change the way we live, to refuse to give into fear.

In its way, these are our little triumphs over terrorism, individually, and collectively.

Canada has been mercifully spared the magnitude of tragedy the French have absorbed over the last couple years. But the lesson is relevant here, too -- the fear of terrorism knows no border or nationality.

"The goal of terrorists is to instil fear and panic," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Friday. "And France is a great country, and a great democracy, that will not allow itself to be destabilized."

Whatever answers are found in coming days and weeks, mass murder isn't enough to tear France apart. To give in to impulses of division, xenophobia and fear, would be to succumb to terrorism.

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