THE BLOG
07/14/2005 11:26 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Oh To Be in England, Now That Terrorism's There

I left London the day the newspapers were full of second-shoe nightmares, the news that the 7/7 bombers had been born and reared right there in England's green and pleasant land.

I arrived in Paris on the eve of Bastille Day, and couldn't sleep for the startling bombardments outside my window -- for a dazed, dozing minute, I thought it was the Germans invading again instead of a festive show of of fireworks. The next morning there was the roar and thwop of military jets and helicopters flying in formation for the big parade, a show of force -- but to whom, now? A matching foreign military power might be put on its back foot by such a balance of might, but what of any homegrown terrorists who might, as in Britain, be hatching -- this time among the Muslims cocooning themselves in certain quarters of Paris, in cities elsewhere in France? What would a flying wedge of military jets mean in a mismatch when men with rucksacks full of explosives can squirm their way unnoticed through an earthbound crowd and create their own hell?

Britain has been broad -- not consistently, but in the main -- broad in its embrace of the "others" who seek its tolerances. Remember Karl Marx, writing his Das Kapital call for revolution, even as he lived for three decades in the virtual shadow of the Houses of Parliament. Now it seems four Muslim men have brought terrorism to the country of their birth. In France, being French seems to stand before any other quality of religion or class, and the government has set its secular limits on Muslims and their symbols, like headscarves. In the U.S., Timothy McVeigh was a born-and-bred American -- and, everyone hopes, a one-off wacko mass murderer. The 9/11 hijackers came to our shores from elsewhere and crashed upon us like a nightmare tsunami. A second wave, we keep being told, is a matter of "when" not "if." New York, Madrid, now London ... is Paris burning? Tell me it isn't, and won't be.

The Paris Metro doesn't seem very crowded just now. I hope this is only because it is exceptionally hot. People walk as far apart as possible on the steamy sidewalks, already crowded as they are with men and women from the cultures of the world. Everywhere tonight, people are singing the same anthem that they sang in Rick's place in "Casablanca" -- "le jour de gloire est arrive.'' Please let them understand that ''gloire'' belongs to all of us.