Notre Dame, London Bridge and Manchester: Europe’s Resilience in the Face of Terror

A young man attacked a policeman outside Notre Dame Cathedral—but Parisians were not cowed. Call it the new Age of Resilience in the West.

PARIS—It was, unfortunately, just one of those things.

In front of Notre Dame de Paris, the great symbol of Christian faith and the French nation in the middle of the French capital, a man shouting something about “Syria” attacked a member of the police force from behind with a hammer. The act was cowardly, crazy, and probably was meant to be suicidal.

There are always heavily armed cops and soldiers in the immediate vicinity, and in a few seconds the attacker was, as officials like to say, “neutralized.” As of this writing he is in hospital and still alive. The cop he attacked is expected to recover.

As it happened, I was only a few blocks away when news of the incident broke, and as I walked toward Notre Dame through a late spring downpour, I was struck by the pure ordinariness of the scene as people ran for shelter under awnings—shelter from the rain—then went back to enjoying the city as soon as the deluge let up.

The police cordoned off the streets around Notre Dame and the square in front of it. People approached the tape, asked what was going on, and, some with a shrug, walked away.

Panic there was not. And, if one is to echo some of the coverage of the much worse London Bridge attack, “reeling” there was not, nor a sense of “siege.”

In fact, as we saw in London, and in Manchester, the Age of Terror is giving way to the Age of Resilience. The jihadists who convinced themselves, and many in the West, that they could inspire terror with trucks and knives and even hammers had better rethink their approach, or, better yet, rethink their lives.

The forces of order in Europe, the United States, and indeed most of the rest of the world have taken the measure of the threat, have closed off the avenues to another 9/11, and are closing in on Raqqa, the capital of the terror cult that pretentiously called itself The Islamic State.

Is “terrorism” over? Far from it. But low-level attacks like the one here today are being relegated in the mind of the public, if not of officialdom, to the category of common crimes.

If there are politicians who want to make more of them, who want to play up the “alarm,” well, we know who they are.

But here in Paris tonight, as in London,  the streets are calm, the air is fresh from the rain, and life goes on.