Jim Wagner
Arson or force majeure
By Jim Wagner
April 16, 2019

If you allow your mind to travel back through time to the arrival of Columbus in the new world, you are nearly half way to the laying of the foundation for the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

The first article linked below was written the day before yesterday's Notre Dame Cathedral fire. In view of the content of that article and the facts reported, I have two questions. First, is it not curious that French authorities have already ruled out arson, especially since they announced this morning (April 16) that it will not be safe for them to enter the structure for two more days? Do not arson investigators normally need to examine the site before they announce their conclusion?

Secondly, given the extent of recent Christian church desecration in France (https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/14044/europe-churches-vandalized), is it not odd that authorities and the press consider it "racist" or "Islamophobic" to entertain the possibility that the fire was deliberately set? More particularly, by its censorship of any mention of the possibility of arson the media has demonstrated it considers it taboo to think of arson from any source as a possible explanation for the fire. Why? Could it be that those in charge of our organs of information realize that if they allow us to consider arson then our common sense will take charge and we may come to suspect Islamic terror?

With respect to the second question, I cannot help but note that when a southern black church burns the blame is always immediately ascribed to white racism, even though there is a history of arson in the South by black ministers hoping to collect insurance on their burned churches, as well as by church members attempting to fraudulently depict white racism. (A couple of recent examples: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1999-03-04-9903040155-story.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/mississippi-man-pleads-guilty-in-vote-trump-church-arson/2019/03/28/88351304-51c1-11e9-bdb7-44f948cc0605_story.html?utm_term=.a725d76cd639 Jussie Smollett was not alone in faking hate crimes for profit.) Why is it permissible to jump to a conclusion of white racism, but not of Islamist jihadism? Of course the burning of black churches could be the result of white racism. It often has been. But if we are to take the press seriously in its demand that we not jump to conclusions, shouldn't we wait and see?

Of particular note with respect to the burning of Notre Dame is that it happened during Holy Week, a period of heightened aggression world-wide by Islamists against Christians. What are the odds that an accidental fire would break out in Europe's most famous cathedral at just such a time?

To be clear, I am not claiming that the fire was arson. I am only asking why it is considered beyond the pale to suggest that it might have been arson. Those in the press are scrupulous in their insistence that we "must not jump to conclusions." But their own thesis – that the fire was set accidentally – is also speculation. There are only two possibilities. Either the fire was intentionally lit or it was not. With no evidence at all, the press immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was the latter. Given the wider context, and the fact that the cathedral has stood for nearly 900 years without burning, is it really more reasonable to insist prima facie that the fire was accidental than that it was intentionally set?

The Washington Post yesterday published an article to recount the many great cathedrals "lost by fire and war." In the second paragraph the writer of that article felt compelled to suggest that this was an historical commonplace. "Notre Dame is one in a long line of cathedrals that have been ravaged by fire or war." Presumably, the Post researched this question thoroughly. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/04/15/history-great-cathedrals-that-have-been-lost-fire-war/?utm_term=.1ac8675245c3

I looked through the article to see how many European cathedrals had burned down over the past thousand years due to accidental causes. There was one. Old St. Paul's Cathedral in London, 1135-1666, was destroyed during the Great Fire of London. Ok, a fire. But that conflagration, even today referred to as "The Great Fire" was hardly a "careless cigarette" as has been suggested as the cause for yesterday's Notre Dame inferno. Aside from bombing during the two World Wars, only one other cathedral was listed in the Post article as having been destroyed by fire. That was the Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral in Barcelona, 1384-1936, set afire during anticlerical "disturbances" initiated on site by Communists and Anarchists during the lead up to the Spanish Civil War.

In other words, the Cathedral Santa Maria del Mar was destroyed by arson at the hands of Marxist zealots fomenting revolution under anti-Christian cultural prejudices very similar to those of today. I understand that it is politically expedient in the current cultural climate to maintain that the Notre Dame fire was accidental. But if you had to stake your life on picking the correct alternative, where would you place your bet? Was the Notre Dame fire arson, or was it an act of God?

© Jim Wagner


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Jim Wagner

Jim Wagner is a retired businessman and freelance writer. His degree is in Psychology with a minor in English from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where he lived, worked, farmed and studied for nine years after his repudiation of the Vietnam War... (more)


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