Monday, October 18, 2010

An Open Letter To Terrorists

Dear Terrorists,

As you know, in recent weeks (and even well before then), your threats and vague plans to do harm in key locations in Europe are splashed all over the news. Terror alert levels remain elevated, yet unchanged in the midst of continued threats and citizens are advised to be extra-vigilant. France, Germany, the UK, the U.S., Sweden, and most recently, Australia, have issued travel alert warnings to their citizens.

As a current resident of Paris, France, I can assure you that the tourists are still flocking here as evidenced by English and German being overheard on the streets and in the Metro. These tourists tend to talk so much louder than the French it's easy for me to identify them, but when I cannot overhear them their white tennis shoes and fanny packs give them away.

The Eiffel Tower and a Metro station have been evacuated more than once in recent days. Machine gun-toting soldiers are patrolling heavily populated areas. Along with the current strikes that are ramping up here in Paris, life is a bit crazy around us.

At least the French communicate when and where the strikes are taking place. It sure would be nice of you to let us know in advance what specific days and times the terror disruptions that you are going to cause will occur so that my family can make alternate plans. Mothers like to know what to expect and how to plan ahead. My husband went to the store just now to stock up on non-perishables due to the threatened trucker's strike that starts tomorrow. Food and fuel shortages? I'll take that kind of threat any day over your kind.

Officials from my government tell me not to let you win by staying home. But I am afraid of your people. I am a mother after all. I don't think you possibly care or understand anything about that unless you take a moment to remember the simple fact that you were born to one. Remember her? Where would you be without her? And, good Lord, what would she think of you now?

To be perfectly honest with you, I secretly felt some relief leaving my home near San Francisco for a year because I tend to think that this will increase my family's chances of avoiding The Big One. And, perhaps, also dodging another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. 

While we were living in the U.S., our country was the prime terrorist target. Coincidentally, we move to Paris, France - home to the government who decided last week to pass a ban on the wearing of full facial veils in public. French president Nicolas Sarkozy claims that this ban is aimed at protecting women's rights. I can understand his point of view, but I can also imagine yours. While France's new law makes no mention of Islam, it is Muslim women living here in France that don the burqa or niqab and to you, this law must feel like a direct insult to your distorted religious beliefs that the majority of Muslims decry. So France becomes an additional target of your hatred. Lucky us.

To be honest with you, I think that France should have banned the wearing of white tennis shoes and fanny packs instead. Yes, this might cause American, British, and German citizens to become further entrenched in their stereotypes of the French as being arrogant and hell-bent on preserving their high cultural standards, but I highly doubt that Interpol or the CIA would receive any intelligence regarding imminent terrorist threats as a result of banning these lowly fashion statements. This "signature style" of threats belongs to you and yours. In my humble opinion, it is the ultimate in bad taste.

These days, as we go about our daily lives here in Paris commuting, shopping, and visiting the sights, we are staying vigilant, keeping our eyes out for your supposed female suicide bomber that the intelligence agencies have made reference to. Will she be donning a burqa or niqab? Will it actually be a man posing as a woman in a burqa or niqab? Does this scenario give you some notion of how and why the French government felt it was prudent to create such a ban in the first place? It is difficult for me to fathom that it is possible for you to recruit, train, and coerce a woman to kill herself in the name of your God. But, I suppose, as long as you deny your girls equal access to education and your women equal access to employment, you remain in control.

I can't help but see the continuation of a universal pattern illustrated by the commonality the current French government and your radical version of Islam share: Men dictating what women are allowed or disallowed to do and men using their power to control those (women) whose power and influence they fear most. These, I believe, are two sides of the same coin. Your Islam doctrine dictating what your women must wear and France dictating what the women of Islam must not wear. 

I am currently reading a book, The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker. In it, he claims that a man's greatest fear is of being humiliated by a woman, and that a woman's greatest fear is of being killed by a man. Just ask any woman living in a village in war-torn Africa who has experienced first-hand that rape is used as a weapon of war, or, ask any woman residing in Manhattan who would like to go for a jog in Central Park. We women are already quite used to this notion of vigilance, so, when authorities are directing us to be extra vigilant because of your vague terrorist threats, what does this mean exactly?

Your past terrorist attacks around the world in the name of "your" God, in my opinion, has helped to nudge France down this road of donning blinders to its past mistakes with French and European human rights standards: WWII's Vichy regime and, more recently, the expelling of Roma gypsies, and, now, the banning of full facial veils. With its blinders fully in place, I can only imagine that France's government will continue to find ways to piss you off. And I don't want my family to be caught in the crossfire.

So, tell me: Shall we keep our current plans over the Christmas holiday to travel to Strasbourg, Munich, and Prague? We know that you have been recruiting and training in Germany and that their country has also been highlighted as a hotbed for possible attacks by you. So what is a mother to do? This mother can't help but think about the scene in Munich: throngs of people, including us, attending the popular Christmas market on Christmas Eve. I know that I am supposed to go about my plans as normal and not let you affect my travel plans or decisions because I then let you win. But you and I both know that this is not a contest between you and lil’ ol’ me.

In the meantime, since I know my letter to you will fall on deaf ears, and you won't give me the answers that I am seeking, I need to remind myself that the intelligence agencies are at least letting you know that we know that you are up to something. Who knows? Maybe the strikes here in France and the resulting systemic havoc will thwart your current attempts at whatever you have planned. I know that even terrorists need food and fuel. (At least until the point at which they blow themselves up.)

In closing, as you continue to jockey for position as the biggest bully on the worldwide stage with the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-il, the Taliban, the Israeli government, Hamas, and yes, even my own country, no matter what mayhem, havoc, or death you wreak upon your fellow world neighbors, humanity and all that is glorious about it, always survives and better yet, ultimately wins. And besides, God is too big for just one religion. Now go hug your mothers and do something productive with your lives. Because LOVE WINS.


Holli Kaplan
Mama, Wife, & Student of Life

Protecting the crowds gathered at the Sacre Coeur


  1. You hit it out of the park Mama! Out of the fricking park!

  2. When will your first book be published?

  3. Your letter is powerful, well written, and etraordinarily expressed. Hang in there. Wow!

  4. wow lady, this is beautifully written...we need to hear more from you.