75 years ago, the capital was finally free from the German yoke. This historic day will remain, in the eyes of the whole world, the symbol of the renewal of France and democracy.
“There are minutes there, we all feel it, which exceed each of our poor lives.” This August 25, 1944, late afternoon, the atmosphere is solemn at the City Hall of Paris. General de Gaulle, who has just arrived suddenly in this high place of republican declarations, is received by the communist Georges Marrane, on behalf of the Paris committee of the Liberation, and by the Catholic Georges Bidault, president of the National Council of the Resistance (CNR), the successor of Jean Moulin. Paris has just been released in the middle of the afternoon from the Nazi yoke. Everything was done in haste. [ . . . ]
Think what you will about America’s contentious identity politics; compared with France, the United States remains Mayberry, TV’s symbol of small-town innocence. We may have Black Lives Matter, massive resistance to a president seeking to enforce the country’s existing immigration laws, and urban riots. But in France the riots are bigger and last far longer. It has hundreds of thousands of people possessing French citizenship but evincing no discernible national loyalty. And there are few geographic barriers between itself and the sources of inundating immigration. No one can forecast with confidence the American future—whether it be a more or less successful assimilation of large streams of new immigrants or a transformed country where ethnic division is a norm underpinning every political transaction. But whatever the fate of Western civilization—whether [ . . . ]