NICE , FRANCE – In the middle of the international media scrum on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, I saw my friend Clarissa Ward. The CNN correspondent is a veteran, like me, of too many of these horrendous terror scenes.
We looked at each other and both said, basically at the same time, “This is ridiculous.” It’s gotten ridiculous.
A shoot-out in a newspaper office escalates to a bloodbath in a concert hall, then onward to bombs in airport luggage carts….
Now a truck. Nothing else. A truck. Driven with such bloodthirsty, maniacal skill that it mows down and kills 84 men women and children. Injuring some 200, many badly.
And the worst of it? Somehow it’s awful when adults are killed in these terror attacks. But when young adults, adolescents, children are murdered... A horror.
Most of the injuries to the children (about 50 were run over) were fractured bones and concussions to the head.
The most poignant pictures of all the seering images from this attack… A teddy bear lying next to a covered young dead body on the street. Two strollers, mangled and empty. Also on the street, near two other covered young bodies.
How dare he? How dare he do this? That was the reaction I heard from many French people I spoke with.
Emblazoned across the front page of the leading French newspaper, Le Figaro, “Gagner la Guerre,” Win the war. Meaning the war against terrorism. Specifically ISIS, which claimed responsibility.
But how? As one person asked me, “What are we going to do, ban trucks?” Some have complained the police should have acted earlier. But most of the deaths happened near the end of the mile or so killer ride.
Earlier this year there were reports that ISIS members were going to come to the beaches here, posing as trinket salesmen and then open fire on the sunbathers. As horrid as that seemed at the time, in some ways, that would have been easier to stop.
French President Francois Hollande visited Nice and offered sympathy and resolve. Again. But most of the French sympathy was used up during last November’s Paris attacks. Now it is just anger and despair.
One more time though, what should be done? More bombing runs on ISIS in Syria and Iraq? They’ve only been spurring on these attacks.
More security at public functions? The airports here already look like military training camps.
More efforts to integrate potentially dangerous groups? That might see results in….ten, twenty, or thirty years.
It’s a hard one. For France. The US (a father and son from the Dallas-Fort Worth area were also victims of the attack). For the western world.
My friend Clarissa added one more thing while we were talking. “Look at all this media, at all the public, the attention. You don’t think others will be noticing this and saying ‘I can do this too?’”
She was right. But attention must be paid. And answers must be found as well.