Is Notre Dame catching fire the biggest issue we have?

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 at 8:49 PM

On Monday, April 15, the French Cathedral of Notre Dame caught fire. Since the fire broke out, there has been consistent reporting, along with global support for the French people and Catholics, and millions of dollars in donations to help rebuild the long-standing tourist attraction.

Construction on the cathedral started in 1163. It wasn’t until 1345, 182 years later, that the cathedral was complete. Both its history, religious and non-religious, and architecture plays a significant role in French culture.

According to an article by The New York Times, Notre Dame survived World War II, the French Revolution and a fire in the 13th century.

The U.S. company Disney made a movie on Victor Hugo’s novel, “Notre-Dame de Paris,” which they titled “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

As Americans, it is not out of our nature to normalize European culture, specifically white European culture. We praise things that are not our own as long as they are white-centered. However, we fail as a society when minorities in our own country suffer and when non-white countries fail.

On Monday, April 15, a mosque burned to the ground in Jerusalem. Not just any mosque though. Similar to Notre Dame, this mosque, Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, has an important role in the religious world.

Much older than Notre Dame, Al-Aqsa mosque was built in 705. According to the Foreign Policy Journal, it is the third holiest place for Muslims.

In Louisiana, prior to both Al-Aqsa and Notre Dame catching fire, three black churches were set on fire as part of a hate crime. The first church was set on fire on March 26, almost three weeks before the fire broke out at Notre Dame. However, we saw very little coverage in the states. I believe it is safe to assume that the world saw no coverage.

When you Google “Al-Aqsa fire,” all the articles are titled roughly the same: “Mosque catches fire in sync with Notre Dame.” They don’t even mention the name of the mosque, and the titled had to be linked to Notre Dame.

My heart goes out to those in France. I understand that they lost a significant part of their culture and history. My heart also goes out to southern Louisiana and Jerusalem, because they too lost parts of their history and culture.

However, the coverage we saw is a disgrace and says a lot about who we are, not only as Americans, but where our loyalties lie as humans to the white history of the world.

This is a decades-old argument. We only show white history in our schools and in our cities. Monday, April 15, was no different. Americans were mourning a building they had possibly never even seen, but then said “that’s unfortunate” to the mosque or didn’t bat an eye at Louisiana.  

According to The Chicago Tribune, donations to rebuild the French church are close to $1 billion. NBCNews released an article titled “Burned black churches in Louisiana raise $1.3M after Notre Dame fire.” So far, there is no known donations set up for Al-Aqsa mosque.
It took a white church burning down for people to reach out to the people of Louisiana to assist them, almost three weeks later.

President Trump, known for claiming that Democrats don’t care about the American people, has pledged to help our neighbor across the pond. I admire him for that. The French throughout American history have often offered a helping hand. However, he has yet to solve the problems in Puerto Rico and Flint, Michigan.

Trump hasn’t tweeted about Al-Aqsa. However, he’s spent his time talking about Paris, Tiger Woods, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

We cannot continue to neglect minorities. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to problems that are not white-people-centered. We will continue to lose bits and pieces that make this world that much more unique.

Obama said in a post about Notre Dame that we must rebuild. I couldn’t agree more. We must rebuild Notre Dame, Al-Aqsa, the three churches in Louisiana, and all the other bits of our histories that we cannot afford to lose.

Anisa Venner-Johnston |

Tags: notre dame

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