Napoleon Bonaparte, who established the medal based on merit rather than station, was said to have said, "You call these baubles, well, it is with baubles that men are led… Do you think that you would be able to make men fight by reasoning? Never. That is good only for the scholar in his study. The soldier needs glory, distinctions, rewards."[Reuters] French President Francois Hollande on Monday awarded France's highest honor, the Legion d'honneur, to three U.S. citizens and a Briton who helped disarm a machine gun-toting suspected Islamist militant on a train last week."Faced with the evil called terrorism there is a good, that's humanity. You are the incarnation of that," Hollande told the four men.The suspect's lawyer said on Sunday the man named by intelligence sources as Ayoub el Khazzani, 26, of Morocco, is "dumbfounded" they had him down as a suspected Islamist militant. She said he told her he only intended to rob people on board because he was hungry.
Well, the details of the news story have yet to be fleshed out. Surely a man who is heavily armed is probably out of place on a passenger train. And it seems that the medal recipients deserved all the credit they attracted. But the knee-jerk segue to "terrorism" strikes me as premature and politically convenient.
Isn't "breaking the law" sufficient to describing the situation? "Terrorism" envelopes an intention that has yet to be detailed and tends to frighten people beyond what a "law breaker" might. And how might the situation change if the armed man's intention was informed by extreme hunger rather than political agenda?