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The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Responses

Apres Paris Le Deluge
• James Campion
Look, Ma, Everyone Has Gone Crazy…Again

Be afraid of the lame, they'll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old, they'll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold, they'll inherit your blood
Apres moi le deluge, after me comes the flood
- Regina Spektor


I think it was my then managing editor, Chris Uhl, who aptly named this column Reality Check. I wanted to name it Fear No Art, but he was the managing editor and I gave in, but got him back by titling my first published collection of columns and essays Fear No Art in 2000; the one where I predict 9/11 and implore the United States government to make Osama bin Laden its number one priority in 1998. Ah, it’s all ancient history now. But, you see, it’s not. Uhl, it turns out, was correct. It is indeed time for a reality check, while also reminding ourselves of what lies in the shadows when we choose to ignore cold, sober fact and replace it with brush-fire panic.

The tragedy in Paris last Friday 13th was horrifying; one might say, terrifying, which is the whole point of terrorism.

It certainly has unleashed the crazy in many of us.
And one cannot merely blame French President Francois Hollande, who has gone all Dick Cheney this week or the United States congress and more than two dozen governors, who have decided to ignore the fancy U.S. Constitution they’re always touting as sacrosanct to arbitrarily reject 10,000 Syrian refugees or our president, who has become queerly dismissive and condescending, or the host of presidential candidates, many of whom are running dying campaigns, making desperate attempts to appear tough or anti-Muslim or whatever claptrap plays in the sticks; one must look at us – 75 percent of whom wanted nothing to do with this nut house in the Middle East again just two weeks ago to a neck-wrenching u-turn of 65 percent wanting blood.

Oh, how nostalgia runs deep.
We’ve been here before. Of course ours was a first strike, shocking beyond belief, and within our borders. We had spent a half century whistling along while our government played chess with the Middle East and we consumed the oil as if a bottomless bounty with no consequences. So we went completely spastic; trading in civil rights and trampling on law, and invading everything. Now we know better; or maybe we don’t. Either way, we all need to calm the fuck down.

Here’s how I see the Paris attacks; a desperate attempt for a suddenly flummoxed and barely structured organization, ISIS, whose original edict or caliphate or religious falderal that hides behind maniacs with lives so spectacularly empty they trade them in for “a cause”, no more pathetic an existence can be conjured by human thought, has been seriously curtailed over the past few months. ISIS is not used to losing. It is losing.

As published here on 7/22 (THE IRAN DEAL AND THE SECRET WAR ON ISIS) and again on 10/7 (SYRIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST EITHER/OR THEORY) the days of the growing ISIS movement are over. The Paris attack not only does not alter this opinion, it strengthens it.

If one had money on ISIS, as if a sporting event, or looks at it as one might with the long-view of an historical eye; visa vie the Nazis making what appeared at the time as merely another aggressive move towards the East and the Soviet Union at the height of its power, which turned out to indeed be the beginning of the end for them, then it is easy to see that this maneuver serves no strategic purpose for its progress. Hitting a major European city, especially one that heretofore had no skin in the game but was merely the easiest target because of a) its normal unrest, b) its large Muslim population, and c) its borders are a sieve, only makes it more difficult for ISIS to complete its mission; unless of course it hopes as a last resort to turn the tide by terrorizing the efforts to thwart it.

Let’s remember, the original aim a of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), was the return of territories (which they see as holy), once robbed by centuries of progress (wholly Western created) to a 12th or 14th or whatever century construct in the name of Allah and Muhammad… blah, blah, blood on your children, Biblical/Qur’an stupidity. This had nothing to do with the al Qaeda model of striking a blow against infidels abroad. ISIS was not global, it was primeval territoriality. Then the United States decided to send in humanitarian aid to assist refugees on a mountain in early August of 2014. Only then did Americans appear on videos being beheaded. This caused a predictable stir here and got the John McCains of the world riled up. Of course a stiff wind motivates McCain to invade someone, which is why I thank the god Baal on a daily basis that bleating lunatic was never president. Moreover, the current president began yammering on about “red lines in the sand” in Syria and put us squarely into its cultural civil war, which stars a brutal dictator (a dime a dozen in the Middle East), President Bashar Assad, who is a puppet of the Russian government and its own brutal dictator, Vladimir Putin.

You see, “getting involved” is a bad move. It’s too late, of course. We’re involved. To what extent, we’ll see. I know two things for sure; 1) once Barack Obama exits stage left, there is no one currently running for his job that has a hoot-in-hell of winning it that will not get us more involved than him, on both sides of the political aisle, and 2) the progress and aim of ISIS is coming to a close.

It will not take months or even a year to complete, because its rise and expansion has taken decades-plus, as ISIS has transformed and morphed in some way shape or form since the late-90s. But whatever the hell it was trying to ultimately accomplish is pretty much done. And every time they conjure up a Paris or a Libya or the failed attempt in Germany, it speeds up its demise.

Sure, there is going to be some lone wacko who walks into a café or bar in New York or Washington or London to try and take a few of us out for “the cause”, but that is our world now; just as it is on a far greater scale that some gun-nut finds his way into a school to shoot a bunch of kids. And don’t think destroying ISIS destroys religious-motivate hatred anymore than the Pope talking about the church being horrified by priests raping children will halt that.
Apres moi le deluge.


Mr. Campion,

I believe your flippant response to these, as you put it so flippantly, “weekly shootings” is disturbing. (NEW TWIST ON WEEKLY SHOOTING – Issue: 9/2/15) And not because as a reader of your weekly rants I think you put too much emphasis on the greater social and economic issues prevalent in these random gun murders, or even the political ramifications of such horrific events, but because of this obsession you have with blaming everything on human nature. But isn’t all laws, no matter how detailed or broad deal with human nature? And has humans, do we not have a natural yearn to be safe and live and should our laws reflect that?
But beyond all that – no matter where you fall on guns or laws dealing with guns or human behavior or mental illness or the violent nature of Americans in general, you would have to see each of these incidents as not isolated but something adding up to a whole. This is all of our problems, and I ask; how do we deal with it? Some say everyone should be armed, others that there should be stricter laws; but nothing ever gets done – ever! Should we not put pressure on our supposed leaders or our local and federal governments to bring these issues up and face them and debate the more rigorously and make us face out human nature?
I guess there are a lot of questions there, but they are serious ones, and I think, for your minor part in all this – like all those who write opinion professionally and have influence over more than a friend in a bar or a small gathering at dinner bouncing this around – that you have a responsibility to at least understand the seriousness and horror of this.
Maybe it’s unfair, but sometimes I don’t think you do.

Angela Rizzardi

You are so right! It is the glorification of the killer in these shootings that causes so many copy-cat ones. It is the coverage and the printing of their manifestos and their faces getting on TV. They are nobodies and we make them somebodies. Our responsibility, beyond gun control and mental health is to stop giving lunatics a forum for madness. Why do they do it? Because their empty lives is no alternative to being infamous, to being noticed, to have a voice where otherwise they are pathetic.


Columbine, VA Tech, Newtown, Aurora, S. Carolina--when will we stop crying and wringing our hands and start calling it what it is--Domestic Terrorism?

Dan Bern

This is an interesting perspective you provide that is mostly ignored among the main stream media. (JOE COOL DOMINATING – Issue: 9/16/15) Barrack Obama’s second term has been one victory after the other, not to mention the lowest gas prices in ten years, five percent unemployment (Romney promised six percent at the end of his first term), a record amount of months of private sector job growth, booming, record high stock market numbers, an historic Iranian deal that has already positively affected the fight against ISIS and put the onus on Iran to act as a true nation, the opening of relations with Cuba, the TPP deal, which will force China to stop manipulating the foreign markets, and on and on.
Yet, all you hear is mediocre approval ratings and bitching about Washington gridlock. Soon they will barter a deal to keep the government going, because this president’s winning streak has broken the stupid and petty TEA Party kabal.
Hell yeah!

Aaron P.

I think Obama’s achievement may have been in the first term when he helped stopped the bleeding on the absolute worst economic disaster in eighty years. And also the auto industry bailout that no one ever mentions anymore, which saved five states and was a national security issue. Trump goes on and on about American businesses leaving and manufacturing being dismantled in this age of technology, but what if there were no more or most of the American auto industry gone?


Wow due, do you always wear your “I Heart Barry” t-shirt? So now we give credit to a guy for shit he had nothing to do with? I love gas prices rise, it is oil company greed. Gas prices drop…all hail his Barry-Ness!!!! Stock market moves downward and it is all the fault of the greedy fucks on Wall Street. Stock indexes rise, WOW isn’t Barry awesome?!?! Is there nothing he can’t do???
The Iran Deal is a joke. Only the most loyal of the Unicorn/Rainbow crowd will think this will deny Iran a nuclear weapon. Those of us who actually study this sort of stuff realize Israel is a nuclear target in less than 18 months. You see, we don’t just read the pro-Democrat New York Times for news. Some of us read material from around the world and it is there you get truth. The truth is, Iran has already said there will be no inspectors, Russia is already sending parts for centrifuges and Syria is buying Iranian weaponry that will pay for those Russian centrifuges…but that’s ok, we can all hold hands and sing songs of peace.
Joe Cool is dominating because he is ignoring law and the GOP doesn’t have the balls to hold him to task. It’s not so much a victory by Obama as much as it is a forfeit by the other side.

Bill Roberts

So Obama hasn’t been impeached or made illegal arms deals, but what about the pile of illegal (and they are illegal) executive orders?! Maybe this will not register in the short term, but like Bush’s asinine Iraq War these may be judged far more harshly in the light of historical perspective. This is a president that has mostly ignored congress and put a glaring light on the unbelievably dangerous amount of power granted to the executive branch that was not always the case, especially in how this republic was founded.
But like you say, beyond all that, he still has a year to go to fuck something up and I dare say with the way this planet is headed it is inevitable.

G. Bernard

Reagan said something like; “Are you better off now than eight years ago?” And the answer for Barack Obama is yes! Obviously. We were embroiled in two useless wars and the economy was about to tank BIG TIME.
Is Obama a better president than Bush? Well…yeah! But then again that is like saying you’re a smarter than a dog. Not much competition there.
However, it is an interesting proposition to compare other second terms with all the Watergate and Iran/Contra and Monica Lewinsky and Viet Nam and all that. You may have to go back to Eisenhower’s second term when the American economy (thanks to federal government intervention) was booming and creating the first real and turns out greatest middle class in the history of civilization to find a better second term.


© James Campion Nov 24th 2015

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James Campion is the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. His new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” is out now

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