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June 30, 2005
The French Fascination With Terrorism

When the Left bemoans the "loss of sympathy" that followed the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11, they generally point to the French reaction, as typified by Le Monde, which proclaimed all the world to be Americans on that day. Shortly afterwards, when we determined to discard the obviously-insufficient previous counterterrorism approach of criminal investigation in favor of a military response, that sympathy quickly evaporated into a fear of American overreaction. The French went even farther, using the war on terror in a pathetic attempt to position itself into a diplomatic "hyperpower" in opposition to the US, bullying other nations into opposing our efforts to force the UN to confront Saddam Hussein.

Now, of course, we know all about the corruption of the Oil-For-Food program at the UN which lined French, German, and Russian pockets as one proximate cause for the loss of this "sympathy" that the American Left mourns so loudly. However, the London Telegraph reports that those French sympathies may have been misplaced all along. A new controversy has erupted in France over a memorial to a band of terrorists that attempted to assassinate Charles de Gaulle forty years ago:

A memorial honouring members of the OAS, the terrorist group that tried to assassinate Gen Charles de Gaulle, is to be erected in a French cemetery despite furious opposition. ...

France remains fascinated by the events of the early 1960s when the OAS (l'Organisation de l'Arme Secret) launched a terror campaign in response to Gen de Gaulle's decision to push for a referendum on Algerian independence.

Echoes of the attempts to murder the president were found in Frederick Forsyth's novel, The Day of the Jackal, later a Hollywood film starring Edward Fox as an OAS hitman hired to kill Gen de Gaulle. At one point in 1962, 100 OAS bombs a day were detonated in Algeria. Thousands of innocent people were killed as the group targeted civilians in an attempt to wreck a ceasefire.

Although the OAS is often described as a fascist group, sympathisers were drawn from many walks of French life and members included Jews and Arabs. The date of the memorial's inauguration was chosen to mark the 43rd anniversary of the execution of Roger Degueldre, chief of the OAS's sinister Delta commando.

The French government executed four men for their part in the failed assassination attempt, but apparently have never killed off the fascination and admiration for the men who used terrorism in an attempt to extend French colonialism. It seems that French opposition to terrorism and sympathy for its victims depends on the identity of the dead and the politics of the bombers.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 30, 2005 7:01 AM

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