During the Second World War a company of American soldiers was marching through France when a little old lady approached them with a broom over her shoulder. She joined the troops and began to march with them. The soldiers smiled at the lady and told her to please step aside because she could not do anything with her broom. “Maybe not,” came the reply, “but at least I can let them know whose side I’m on!”
Historically, America and France have gotten along very well. For instance, during the Revolutionary War between the United States and Great Britain, it was the French who provided the Yankees with needed cash, weapons, and soldiers. And the Statute of Liberty, was built in France, by Frenchmen, and given to America as a gift. One of the main reasons the two countries have bonded so well is their common belief in democracy (liberty, equality, fraternity). But it is in the maintaining of such freedoms that a stark difference arises between the two nations and answers the question regarding the recent ISIS terrorist attacks, “Why France?”
The United States was founded by men of deep Christian faith who believed that democracy could only survive if Judeo-Christian values played a major role in it. (Even the doctrine of the separation of church-and-state was far more to keep the state out of the church than it was to keep the church out of the state.) As in example, this is why you find, “In God We Trust” on the currency. However, modern France was founded by men who were deep secularists and believed that the only way for democracy to survive was to keep religion as far away from the state as possible (much of this a reaction to Roman Catholicism’s previous control of the country). The French term is laicite (lie-ee-see-tay) meaning “secular state” and this view is considered to be the foundation on which all French society rests.
Now here’s an example of the difference between the two countries. In America, there is a bill of rights giving people the freedom to express their religious beliefs, meaning publicly: Christians (can wear crosses), Jews (can wear yarmulkes, and Moslems (can publicly wear hijabs). But in France, there is a bill of rights giving people the freedom to not be exposed to religious beliefs, meaning publicly: Christians (can’t wear crosses), Jews (can’t wear yarmulkes) and Moslems (can’t publicly wear hijabs). And this French ostracizing of religion has produced the expected result of a morally bankrupt nation where 95% of the people don’t attend any church at all (and the 5% who do are mostly seniors). And into this almost totally secular society come 5,000,000 Moslems (at 8% of France’s population, the largest Moslem total in any European country) many who believe from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet in just the opposite; that not only should there be religion in society, but religion itself should be the government. But the French will not budge one inch when it comes to any religion. So when the Moslem massacre of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists occurred, France held a national Laicite Day in which it was made very clear – secularism is totally non-negotiable.
The bottom line? Opposites do attract, but they also do attack, and sadly, we recently saw some of that in the city of Paris.