The Notre Dame fire: Conclusions enforced before the evidence was examined

The recent fire in Notre Dame Cathedral has highlighted the attempts of the powerful to control the news.

The Paris prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, has decided the fire was "likely accident, not arson."  When reporting his decision, it is easy to eliminate the word "likely" for the sake of brevity.  (Please excuse the sarcasm.)  Luke Baker, Reuters's Paris bureau chief, tweeted, "Fire at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral was started by accident and is related to ongoing work, according to France 2, citing police."  There it is: the orthodox truth.  If you don't accept the "orthodox" story, you are a "conspiracy theorist," an Islamophobe, and a racist.

Deviance from the orthodox view must be silenced.  Fox News's Shepard Smith invited the French media analyst Philippe Karsenty for an eyewitness interview while the fire was still raging.  Karsenty said, "Of course you will hear the political correctness, that it's probably an accident, but..."  Before he could finish, Smith interrupted: "Sir, sir, sir, we're not going to speculate here of the cause of something that we don't know."  Karsenty continued: "I'm just telling you, you need to be ready..."  Smith cut him off: "No, sir.  We're not doing that here.  Not now.  Not on my watch!  Philippe Karsenty, it's very good of you to be here."

Fox's Neil Cavuto had a similar experience in his interview with William Donohue, president of the Catholic League.  Donohue was skeptical about the accident claim.  He commented, "Forgive me for being suspicious.  Just last month, a 17th-century church was set on fire in Paris.  We've seen tabernacles knocked down, crosses have been torn down, statues."  Cavuto responded, "We don't know that.  So if we can avoid what your suspicions might be."  Dohohue then stated, "When I find out that the Eucharist is being destroyed and excrement is being smeared on crosses..."  At that point, Cavuto decided to terminate the interview: "Wait a minute.  I love you, Bill, but we cannot make conjectures about this.  So, thank you.  Bill, I'm sorry.  Thanks very much.  I do want to let people know, and again we're not trying to be rude to our guests here."

Muslim desecration of Christian churches has a long history.  In her book, The Rage and the PrideOriana Fallaci relates how Somali Muslims desecrate Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence.  "The yellow streaks of urine that profaned the millenary marbles of the Baptistery as well as the golden doors.  With the yellow streaks of urine, the stench of the excrements that blocked the main entrance of San Salvatore al Vescovo."  French churches have experienced nearly 2,000 attacks in the past two years.  There was an arson attack on Saint-Sulpice church in Paris, feces smeared on a wall in Notre-Dame-des-Enfants in Nimes, and vandalism of the organ at Saint-Denis Basilica. 

In light of the large number of attacks on Christian churches, it should not be unreasonable to suspect that the fire was an act of arson.  There are also credible people who believe that the accident theory makes no sense.  Among them is Benjamin Mouton, former Notre Dame Cathedral architect (2000 to 2013).  Mouton explained that the oak timbers that made up the cathedral's roof had become hardened after more than 800 years and wouldn't burn easily.  Mouton also claimed that the theory of an electrical source for the fire was unlikely.  One possible source of the fire is a short-circuit by electrified bells near the spire.  Nicolas Gueury, who electrified a set of bells in the cathedral in 2007, thought about that possibility but has ruled it out.

Investigators were allowed inside the cathedral for the first time on Thursday.  They will determine what kind of accident took place.  It certainly must be determined to be an accident.  This was the decision arrived at by the politicians and the media while the fire was still raging.  If the investigators were to determine that the fire was indeed arson, the media and politicians would be further discredited.  They cannot afford that.

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing).  He has a master of arts degree in International Relations from St. Mary's University.  He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Photo credit: LeLaisserPasserA38.