The Alarm Bells of Notre Dame

Is Notre Dame a wilfully ignored warning?

As the world mourns over the disaster at Notre Dame that occurred this Holy Week, our hearts go out to the citizens of Paris and of France who now have a gaping hole at the center of their nation, their history, and even their culture.  A work of art of the magnitude of the great Cathedral is the common heritage of mankind; all men of humanity, no matter where, have suffered a loss.

Unfortunately, we aren't entirely sure that all people feel the loss. There's an interesting aspect of The Guardian's detailed timeline of the progress of the fire:

6.20pm, Monday 15 April  [emphasis in the original]

An alarm sounds during mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The public prosecutor, Romy Heitz, says later it is unclear whether it was a smoke or a heat alarm. The priest hesitates, then continues with the service, believing it may be a false alarm. But although no sign of fire was found, the 850-year-old building was evacuated as a precautionary measure.  At 6.43pm, a second alarm went off: fire declared.  [emphasis added]

7.10pm - Smoke plume clearly visible from afar. Photos start circulating on social media and crowds gather on left and right banks of River Seine as police seal off Île de la Cité and fire service arrives.

7.20pm - Firefighters say blaze is “potentially linked” to a 10-year, €150m restoration programme that began last year.

8:50pm - Paris prosecutor announces an investigation into the cause of the fire.

1:05am - Paris prosecutors say they are investigating a case of "involuntary destruction by fire."  [That is, they say it was an accident.]  [They] are interviewing workers on the restoration project.

9.30am - The fire is entirely extinguished. "The next phase is the examination by experts," says Plus [a fire service spokesman], adding that the "violent fire ... spread very rapidly across the whole of the roof, destroying roughly 1,000sq metres".

Why We Wonder

When the firefighters arrived at 7:10 pm, nearly an hour after the fire apparently started, they stated that the fire was "potentially linked" to the restoration project.  The smoke was first seen coming from the scaffolding area so that's a reasonable guess, but means little because there hadn't been any investigation.

By 1.05am, however, five hours after announcing the start of the investigation but more than eight hours before the fire was finally out and Spokesman Plus said "The next phase is the examination by experts," the prosecutors already declared that it's a case of "involuntary destruction by fire."  They made an unequivocal claim that the fire wasn't an act of terrorism before the investigation even started!  The fictional Capt. Renault would understand, though he'd be doing the exact opposite.

CNBC observed:

Investigators haven't been able to enter the cathedral to assess what might have caused the fire.  The Paris public prosecutor's office has stated that it appears to have been an accident, and that it has no reason to believe it was arson.

There's no way anyone could know for certain that the file was either accidental or deliberate - they hadn't even been able to enter the building at the time.  Yet the prosecutor said they are investigating a case of "involuntary destruction by fire," in other words, it was known to be an accident and they were all but ruling out any other possibilities!  Even though a proper investigation will take months, they're now blaming an electrical short-circuit and possibly a computer glitch which didn't report the proper location for the fire.

We've Been There Too

When Mr. Trump was running for President, he made much of the fact that the Obama administration had never spoken the words "Islamic terrorism."  He reminded us that Mr. Obama had referred to the Ft. Hood shooting where Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, murdered 13 people and injured more than 30 others as "workplace violence."

In reality, Maj. Hasan had long been known to his peers and to the Army as literally a card-carrying Islamic extremist.  He'd given presentations to fellow officers in which his treasonous views were made clear.  It was immediately reported that he shouted "Allah akbar!" as he began his murder spree.  Yet the incident was merely "workplace violence" according to our president at the time.

In November 2011, a group of Ft. Hood survivors and family members filed a lawsuit to force the government to classify the incident as terrorism.  We got the impression that our government's major concern after any act of terrorism was to keep Muslims from being blamed - any risks or injuries to actual loyal Americans were entirely irrelevant.

The 2018 midterms sent Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, a Somali-American, to Washington to represent Minnesota's 5th Congressional district and Rashida Harbi Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman, as Representative for Michigan's 13th Congressional district.  They are the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress.  To no one's surprise, they are both staunch Democrats.

It's been clear for a long time why Democrats favor open borders.  Putting illegals on the voting rolls in California has turned that state safely Blue along with several other "sanctuary states."  Liberals exploded when Mr. Trump spoke of busing illegals to "sanctuary states."  Having locked Republicans out of power in those places, Democrats don't need any more illegals there, they want them in Red states so they can turn them Blue over time as with Michigan and Minnesota.

No Democrat wants to draw attention to the dangers of importing illiterate illegals or Muslims who do not share American traditions of religious tolerance and separation between religion and politics - so long as they support Democrats.  To Muslims, religion is politics, which is why they speak of adopting sharia law as soon as possible; Democrats try to keep people from noticing.

The French Have It Worse

Nobody knows the precise Muslim population in either the United States or in France.  It's clear, however, that the Muslim population in France is far larger proportionately than that of the United States.

We can't know his heart, but it seems to us that Mr. Obama wanted to underplay Islamic terrorism so that he could keep importing more Democrat voters, and if some of them happened to be psychopathic killers, oh well.  He was afraid that if voters got concerned enough, that he'd have to stop the flow, or that voters' anger might even touch off violence and the expulsion of Muslims, Democrats every one.  Can't have that!

The French have a far bigger problem because their Muslim population is so much greater.  Police have found machine guns secreted in Muslim buildings while law-abiding French citizens have been disarmed by gun control laws.  A French civil war against Islam would be far more damaging than the American equivalent.

The recent "yellow vest" riots and arson were triggered when President Macron tried to raise the gasoline tax to fight climate change.  The riots showed that French citizens are losing faith in their government's essential legitimacy.  Rather than concentrate on improving the lives of their people or defending their common heritage, their leaders concentrate on raising taxes on gasoline which country people need to move around while leaving urban elites - many of them foreigners - untouched.

If it became widely believed that the Notre Dame fire was yet another act of Muslim terrorism and that the government had tried to cover it up, as they have played down "immigrant" involvement in the 2,000 Christian houses of worship in France which have been desecrated in the past two years, the government's credibility would be damaged yet again, perhaps permanently.

That's the only explanation we can see for the government's instantly trumpeting the story that the fire wasn't sabotage, when a moment's thought reveals that they couldn't possibly have known either way - absent a direct revelation from the God of the cathedral, Whom they don't even believe in.

What's worse, Benjamin Mouton, who served as Chief Architect of Historic Monuments in France and oversaw restoration work of Notre Dame until 2013, says that it is highly unlikely an electrical short circuit took place, and that it would take an extraordinary effort to ignite the ancient oak of the cathedral.

"In the Nineties, we updated all the electrical wiring of Notre Dame," Mouton said. "So there is no possibility of a short circuit. We updated to conform with the contemporary norms, even going very far – all the detection and protection systems against fire in the cathedral."

"Oak that is 800-years-old is very hard – try to burn it," Mouton said. "Old oak, it is not easy at all. You would need a lot of kindling to succeed… It stupefies me."

Please note once again: we are not saying that the fire was deliberate or that it was an accident.  We are saying that there is no credible way to know at this point in the investigation.  Indeed, given the scale of the destruction, there may never be a way to know for sure even if the investigators were honestly seeking out the truth - which, from what we've seen, we also can't know.

As we see it, the government rushed out the equivalence of calling it "workplace violence" to avoid further loss of credibility.  Instead, they've destroyed any credibility the investigation might have had, at least for anyone willing to think things through.

There are so many Muslims in France who refuse to adapt to French culture that it's not clear that French culture can survive.  In trying to keep Muslims from being blamed for yet another act of terrorism, the government seems to have written French culture and the French nation off.  They seem to fear the consequences if French people come to believe that Muslims have sabotaged another French icon - they don't want ordinary French  people to try to save their way of life, because their own leaders and elites have decided that it's hopeless and/or not worth the bother.

It's too bad that during this Easter season, the French don't seem to believe in the resurrection of French culture, indeed of France itself as a home for Frenchmen.  If they look across the pond where Mr. Trump is laboring to make America great again, they may want to reflect on the fact that resurrection may come when most unexpected.  Just ask Pontius Pilate!

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

.... our president at the time ....

"Our president?"

Zero was never my "president."

Not ever!

April 21, 2019 5:47 PM

Such events used to be called “Acts of God,” when no alternative cause could be realistically assigned. Your commentary calls into question the reality of a “short circuit” or a live “blowtorch” as a cause.
So one must ask, Perhaps it was indeed an “Act of God.”
And what message could God be wanting to get across? Does it take very much imagination or pure faith to think that God is telling us that Christian/Western Civilization is in deep trouble? And where would God choose to give out the great wake-up call, other than in France?
The increasingly secular nature of Europe, and particularly France, is the perfect place to start. After all, in America a much higher percentage of our people do go to church. (So why would God pick on us?).
Already in France, the rich have promised to pay to revive Notre Dame. But even that has called out the seculars, who resent that so much money is being pledged. (They prefer to have the price of their gasoline subsidized).
You can be sure that if a mosque burned down, riots would follow and the French government itself would be forced to tax Christians to rebuild.

April 21, 2019 6:32 PM

Obvious 2 word response to the French authorities: "sprinkler system".
In all the coverage of this tragedy, I've never read that there was a sprinkler system or any mechanized way to assure that water ( or maybe fire retardant chemicals) got to the flammable parts of the cathedral before the Paris FD showed up. When I started a business I rented a B grade office and the local fire marshall made sure the sprinkler system worked before we hired anybody. I can't believe that the French wouldn't take the same precaution with a national treasure. An 800 year old building doesn't have to have an 800 year old fire fighting system.
Besides, you can put coloring agents in the system and , if arson, you can quickly find the Muslim terrorists with chartreuse hair.

April 21, 2019 8:17 PM

One only has to look at the map of vandalized Christian churches in France over the last few years to reckon how this fire was started. One thing is certain, if we do not fight back we will be surrendering to an ungodly horde hell bent on our destruction. We need to choose a civil life of freedom or death.

April 21, 2019 9:43 PM

.... We needs must choose a civil life of freedom or death ....

True on March 23 1775 and more true, today.

But let none of us for even a millisecond believe the forces of evil nowadays manifest in the fascist Left "democrats" will ever cease their every-day-more-frenzied efforts to deny our nation both our liberty AND our lives.

Today's "democrats" make a piker of as-deadly-dangerous an enemy our nation has ever previously faced.

Stalin? Hirohito? Mussolini? Lenin? Hitler? Mao? Pol Pot? Nguyễn Tất Thành "Hồ Chí Minh?"

Insofar as is concerned the threat posed by today's Nazified fascist-Left "democrats?"

Every last one of them's a piker.

FOR, while: ".. a nation may survive its fools and its ambitious, it will not survive treason from within. Our ancient enemies were not and nor are those now at our gates as formidable, for they have all carried their banners openly. The "democrats," though, move freely within our walls, their sly whispers rustling through all the alleys and heard in the very halls of government. For the traitor appears not a traitor and, by speaking in accents familiar to us and by wearing our faces and professing to march to our drummers, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in many hearts. By rotting our nation's soul and insidiously undermining the pillars of our City on the Hill, the "democrat" infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.

"A murderer is less to fear.

"The traitor is the plague."

-- Marcus Tullius Cicero (apologies to)

April 21, 2019 11:47 PM

If the authorities know Muslims set Notre Dame on fire but cover it up, France is lost - unless the truth comes out and the French stage a new, better Revolution.

April 25, 2019 7:43 PM

.... its authorities know moslems set Notre Dame on fire but cover it up. France is lost ....

It took an hour and a half to get firemen to the Notre Dame fires and even longer for them to bring sufficient water (to a fire on an island) for Homer Simpson's "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" to begin to "fight" the fire. But only forty-five minutes for them to have announced the cause as being "Not terrorist related."

Having predetermined the fire's cause, the craven apologists um "authorities" then immediately began -- and continue, apace -- the tortured task of arranging the creation of and appearance of "evidence" in support of their predetermination.

Reminiscent of the French State's destruction of Concorde. In that instance via covered-up criminally-negligent maintenance of both the aircraft and the runway surface, a 300-hours-on-type "captain" and covered-up criminally-negligent cockpit management, a criminally-fraudulent and created-from-the-whole-cloth "investigation" and an entirely-fictional "accident report." Followed by an effective act-of-war-like attempt to employ the courts to transfer responsibility (to America and to Continental Airlines) for the entirely French-State/Air-France/Airports Authority/Accident-Investigation-Authority-owned effective mass-murder of more than 100 innocents.

And of a magnificent (and, to the end, brilliantly British-Airways-maintained and operated) aeroplane.


April 25, 2019 8:48 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...