Recreational Outrage: The Notre Dame Edition

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The Cathedral before and after the fire. Photo by the

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard all about the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was a horrible event by any reckoning, and I feel for the people of France. But be forewarned: if this unfortunate event isn’t on a par with a death in the family to you, you’ll be harangued by those who suddenly have discovered a passion for French culture and medieval architecture.

You know what I’m talking about — like when a celebrity dies and all of a sudden everyone in the Social Media Universe was So-and-So’s biggest fan. The same dynamic is at play here.

First off, let me state unequivocally that it’s always a terrible shame when ancient structures succumb to the ravages of time and circumstance. No-one, least of all this history geek, finds anything to celebrate in a situation like this.

But it’s the natural order of things. All things must pass, as the Quiet Beatle used to say, and history bears this out. Repeatedly.

Of course it’s horrible and sad. No-one disputes that. But it’s a building. A non-sentient being. It simply does not merit the same level of concern as countless other human tragedies blighting the planet Every. Damn. Day.

Or it shouldn’t anyway.

And, let’s be honest, losing your shit over Notre Dame is more than a little hypocritical when

a.) the sacred sites of our indigenous people right here in the U.S. are destroyed on the reg to make way for fracked gas pipelines


b.) Our country is targeting and destroying mosques in the Middle East in the course of our futile and endless War on Terror.

I don’t see that outpouring of grief and anger when these crimes (not accidents, crimes) occur literally on a daily basis.

Why do only western European religious structures warrant the sort of pearl-clutching hysteria we’re witnessing over Notre Dame? Because I rarely see anyone choosing the deliberate destruction of non-Christian sacred spaces as a hill to die on.

The fire at Notre Dame destroyed its steeples, which can and will be repaired(at great expense to the International community, of course.) Thankfully no-one lost their lives. It’s not like an arsonist set the structure ablaze with a thousand people trapped inside.

It’s a damn shame, but it’s not a disaster.

Sorry, but it’s not.

But if you dare suggest a sense of proportion is warranted, you’re instantly branded as heartless or cruel — or worse — in certain quarters. Believe me, I know this firsthand. Luckily, The Give a Fuck Delivery Truck missed me on this one.

Time to get a grip folks, and reevaluate what a tragedy of epic proportions really is by flipping through a few history texts (or your local news stations for that matter.) If you want to lose your shit over a fire that seriously impacts humanity even thousands of years later, I present the Library at Alexandria. I’ll wait. With a box of tissues. That’s worth weeping over.

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is a political junkie and history buff randomly alternating between bouts of crankiness and amusement while bearing witness to the Apocalypse. Come along!

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