Nidra Poller is back in Paris and has a devastating article on the current events: Burning Buses: “She was black but she looked white, her skin was peeled.”
The bus was ambushed around 9 PM, but urban lighting is well-developed in France, the bus stop and adjoining projects were not lost in an inky darkness. The marauders must have felt quite safe hanging around after their first attempt to board the bus was foiled. They waited for it to reach the end of the line just a few stops away and come by again.
Either these kids carry a few bottles of gasoline wherever they go, or they had planned the escapade well in advance. Maybe they felt invulnerable because there is so much torching, so few arrests, even fewer tough jail terms, and no bad publicity for criminals. Facts pop up once in a while like fish bubbles on a quiet lake—hundreds of cars burned on a relatively calm night, at least a hundred every night all year long, 2500 policemen injured since January 2006—and disappear without consequences.
The agonizing condition of Mama Galledou, a studious attractive young woman from a good family—her father is a chemist trained at the same school she was attending, a sister is studying to be an engineer—is muted. Why? An attending physician wiped tears from his eyes as he approached the microphone to give an update. (Suddenly I remember the upbeat medical bulletins delivered when Arafat was rotting at the Val de Grace military hospital; the public heartbeat was pumped with images of concerned friends, relatives, colleagues, and secret service goons.) We did finally see an informal assembly of faculty and students at St. Jerome, but those who spoke into the roaming mike were particularly inexpressive…or else the report was deliberately toned down. One young woman, a blonde, remarked that St. Jerome was a good school, but it had a bad reputation because of frequent attacks from delinquents living in the nearby projects. More isolated incidents no doubt!
France suffers from the absence of healthy sensationalism to deal appropriately with sensational events. Words bring people to life. The victim of this vicious attack hardly exists in the public mind. Her friends and family are shown from a distance walking into the hospital, a professor speaks a few words, there is no image of her face in happier times.
Read every word.