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‘I mourn for France but I won’t be changing my Facebook profile’ – Viral letter to the editor

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Facebook users all over the world are showing their support for the Paris terrorist attack victims with a profile photo filter.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the worst violence witnessed in France since World War II, a volley of nearly simultaneous terror attacks that the French President called “an act of war.”

The assailants targeted six sites Friday night in Paris. French authorities put the number of dead at 129, though the death toll is expected to fluctuate.

A letter to the editor in The Brisbane Times titled, "I mourn for France but I won't be changing my Facebook profile," has gone viral. Clair Duffy explains why it's maybe not a great message, actually. She starts by being clear that she really loves France:

I am a self-confessed Francophile. I speak French; have a degree in French; in my 20s I did the obligatory year as an au pair, in Limoges, working for the family of a famous French porcelain house.


But I won't be changing my Facebook profile picture to superimpose the translucent tricolore even though I am sick to the pit of my stomach about the atrocities committed in Paris a couple of nights ago. And I won't be singing La Marseillaise as a demonstration of solidarity with the French people.

That's because I believe the answer to the problems facing our world lies beyond notions of nationalism, and so-called national identity. Beyond notions of allies and enemies. Beyond symbols representing bloodshed on the battlefield, imperial conquest, and lines drawn on maps.

It's also because, if every day I was to change my Facebook profile picture into the translucent flag of the countries where people had died atrocious deaths that day—atrocious, unnecessary deaths by bullets, bombs and chemical weapons, as well as economic and environmental crimes we are yet to name—it would represent all the colours of the rainbow. From Syria to Lebanon, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Sri Lanka and North Korea; from Burundi to Burma and Mexico. For the children shot dead in American classrooms, and the women killed by their partners in Australia. And for the asylum seekers drowning in droves as they try to reach safer shores.

And, of course, for France. Douce France.

So, Facebook, give me a symbol that represents the scope of global suffering and I will wear it. Write me the song, and I will sing it.