Les Champs Élysées is arguably one of the most famous avenues in the world. You cannot visit Paris without strolling at least once on this majestic thoroughfare. It is synonymous with history, glamor and French elegance. Songs and poems have been written in its honor and it is one the most enduring symbol of France.
Les Champs–Elysées means “Elysian Fields” and it takes its name from Elysium. In Greek mythology, it is the resting place of “those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life.”
Well, nowadays Les Champs Élysées look nothing like an idyllic resting place for the righteous or the heroes. For the last 5 months, it has been the weekly theater of riots and devastation and it was definitely no place for “those chosen by the gods.”
In my youth, I have wandered many times on this avenue and like most Parisians, it remains very dear to me. It breaks my heart to witness the devastation brought by hoodlums bent on destruction and looting. Nothing political about it. Just opportunistic plundering.
As I have said many times, it is the duty of any citizen to protest against unjust working or living conditions. But if you feel that you are unfairly treated, before resorting to violence, state your demands and negotiate. Peacefully.
In France, there have been no such initiatives. No real protest leaders have emerged to present their grievances and parley with the government. It has just been a weekly orgy of fear and destruction reminiscent of the Terreur following the French revolution of 1789.
Extremists of all sorts revel in this weekly chaos. They don’t have any solutions but the destruction of a system they abhor. Regardless of any form of government, these malcontents will protest and riot.
Like Robespierre and most of his ilk, they will eventually (I hope) find their way to the figurative guillotine, but the harm they produced will take a long time to heal.
Extremism has no place in a civilized society and should be severely punished each time it occurs. Personally, I would favor some public caning for the most violent thugs convicted of random violence and vandalism.
“When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” Oscar Wilde