Since the Paris attacks several weeks ago, I've seen a lot of praise for French President Francois Hollande's resolute response to the terror tactics of ISIS. I've also seen a smattering of stories questioning whether some of Hollande's moves have gone too far when it comes to taking away the civil liberties of folks. Here's something to consider in that regard, as President Obama and other world leaders are gathered in the French capital to work on a plan for combating climate change
On Thursday November 26, climate activist Joel Domenjoud's day started with a phone call saying that police had broken down the doors of a friend's squat, arresting at least two people. Fearing that his home would be next, Domenjoud slipped out of the little apartment that he shares with his girlfriend in the Paris suburb of Malakoff.
In the wake of the ISIS attacks on November 13, the French government has declared a three-month state of emergency that allows for house arrests, unwarranted searches, and limitations on the movement of people. The government also banned public demonstrations, including the massive actions that had been planned for the international climate conference, known as COP21. Numerous reports have emerged of police raids on individuals with no plausible connection to terrorism, including climate activists.
Domenjoud had been busy that week fighting in court against the ban on demonstrations and preparing alternative actions related to the climate talks, which began today. He had been awaiting the results of what is known as a référé liberté arguing that the ban violated the fundamental rights of those affected and asking an administrative judge to overturn it. The judge declined to do so.
I have boundless sympathy for the French people and for what Paris endured under the butchery of ISIS, and I respect the firmness of the response from Hollande (who, by the way, is a socialist...just putting it out there). But using terrorism as an excuse to stifle legitimate protest at the climate summit is an abuse by the French government of that good will. I find it rather unconscionable.
Now, I don't normally obsess over French politics here at Attytood. But I find this worthy of a mention for two reasons. First of all, defeating terrorism is a life-or-death proposition...but so is stopping global warming. Like ISIS, extreme weather linked to some of the hottest years on record, is killing people amid cycles of drought and extreme flooding. Is it any wonder that thousands of people had been hoping to make their voices heard on this issue in Paris? But blocking their protests and arresting their leaders somehow isn't screaming Liberté, égalité, fraternité to me.
The other thing, of course, is that we've seen this same kind of baloney here in the U.S. of A. -- using "the war on terror" as an excuse to tamp down constitutionally protected dissent here in the "homeland." Think of all the riot gear and armored personnel carriers, etc., that were showered on local police departments after 9/11 -- and then used against political protests like Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter. Think about all the peace groups and other lawful movements that were spied on during the 2000s.
The surest way to lose the fight against terrorism is to throw away the values you were defending in the first place. The clampdown on climate activists in Paris isn't keeping us safe. In fact, it's dangerous. France needs to understand that It's possible to throw some red meat into the battle against ISIS and still keep serving the Freedom Fries on the side