Campus News

Bethel College community reacts to attacks in Paris

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It's been two weeks since the attacks by Islamist extremist group ISIS on the French capital city of Paris. The attacks took various forms: mass shootings, suicide bombings and hostage takings. The attacks have garnered worldwide attention, and “The Bethel Beacon” has talked to the Bethel community to get their take on the attacks. “I’m kind of shocked and still a little bit confused,” said Vicki VanPaemel, senior criminal justice and sociology major. Fifth-year senior biology major Brad Comden said the attacks didn't come as a surprise. “(My reaction) was sadly that I knew that it was going to be eventual,” said Comden. “I looked at this, and (said) this is terrible, but with all the words coming out about ISIS, it’s not surprising that there has been a big attack. It’s more surprising that it hasn’t been anything bigger before this, honestly.” Many, however, echoed VanPaemel's surprise. “I was shocked because I didn’t think that it would happen,” said Maria Burket, freshman sign language interpreting major. “And I never expected Paris, it was just not really on my radar. So I knew that ISIS was a threat to people, but I didn’t really assume Paris necessarily.” Sophomore communication and sign language interpreting major Michaela Ellis talked about how she is standing with Paris in the wake of these tragic events. “I just pray for all those people,” said Ellis. “I mean, the lives lost, and the families of those people. I just pray for them, and I hope that everything gets better, and these people heal over time.” Bill Jones, a former missionary to France, said that this attack was no surprise since ISIS had already made an attempt to attack, though previously unsuccessful. “I was not surprised,” said Jones, who is currently a missionary-in-residence at Bethel. “Because a little over a month or two ago, there had been an attempt made by a terrorist to kill a number of people on a train. And that had been stopped by three Americans who were there.” The train was going from Belgium to Paris, and a man got on with an AK-47 and a pistol, along with several magazines of bullets. “His intention was to kill everybody on the train, and the Americans stopped him,” said Jones. “So (the Paris attacks were) not a surprise, I think we’re going to see more of this type of thing happen, not only in France, but also even here in the U.S.” When asked how they heard about the attacks, many people reported that Facebook, along with the France flag profile picture filter, spurred them to look more into it. “I’d just seen it on Facebook one day, basically I saw all the Facebook pictures being changed to the flag,” said Comden. “And I was so busy I literally had no idea what was going on. And so I basically looked more into it and realized that there was a massive attack.” Burket said, “I was on Facebook, and I saw all the flags, and it said “Pray for Paris,” so I (wondered), 'Why does it say that?' And I saw some articles and I have a whole bunch of friends from Paris, so I sent them texts, and they didn’t respond back.” Burket eventually did get in contact with her friends, one of which responded to her concerns of their safety by saying that it was hard because it was unexpected, but they have to move on. I also asked everyone I talked to what they feel is the proper response to these attacks, either by individuals or by the U.S. as a nation. VanPaemel stated, “I think the proper reaction is that we should try to be more understanding of what’s going on, since we are across the world, and be praying for both sides, but also for everyone here in the United States. Anything could happen wherever.” Comden said, “I’m hoping…(that) from what we’ve seen here, we take more serious measures. We try to deal with it.” Comden also said that he feels those measures may take the form of more investigations or a pulling together of nations during this time. “Making it (so that) we see this as more of a serious threat that everybody should be banding together for,” he said. “Because most of our nations, we may have a United Nations, but we do most things on our own. Or the United States as a whole, we just kind of go off-kilter and do things on our own because we don’t really get the backing for what we want to do.” Burket expressed mixed feelings about the proper response. “I feel like there’s a lot of things on social media that says pray for Paris, but I want more action,” she said. “(But) I feel like it’s really a tough position because some people said that ISIS started because we went in for 9/11 to Afghanistan. So then, it might just give them more strength to pull more members if you go in and bomb them. So I don’t really know my position on it, but I just feel like something should be done, but not necessarily war.” Jones said, “I think that (the U.S. needs) to work with France, and as France has said that they would like to form a global coalition, I think that we should be a part of a global coalition to deal with this.” When asked why, Jones stated, “If we don’t do something, we’re going to see that type of thing occur here in the U.S.” He later said, “Let’s get the support of NATO, or let’s get the support of Saudi Arabia (or) Jordan, let’s get the support of other nations who are willing to contribute (and) work with us to deal with this problem.” When asked what she thought about the coalition, Burket again said that she saw both sides of the issue. “I can see how people want (a coalition),” she said, “but we also have to look at, right after 9/11 we went into the Afghanistan war, and that went on for years, and a whole bunch of people died, and it didn’t really seem to solve the problem. So maybe more thought, but it’s also been a week, and people want justice, so I can see both sides, I don’t necessarily know that I have picked a side.” The attacks themselves were obviously a surprise, but it appears that the idea of an attack or the reality of threats were not surprising to people. “This really should not be a surprise to anybody,” said Jones. “Because this type of thing is going on in Nigeria, it’s going on in Indonesia, it has gone on over the years in Spain…(in) France there have been attempts…we’ve seen it here in America. We have a group of people in ISIS that want to kill Jews, they want to kill Americans, and they want to kill (the) French because they’re a part of what’s happening to fight against them. If Germany becomes involved, they’ll want to kill Germans. They want to kill basically anybody who does not have their particular doctrine or way of viewing the world. So it’s nothing new, I mean, it’s going on. The thing that has a certain shock factor for people is the number of people that were killed. But they will do their best to kill more.” But could it have been prevented? “Yes, with a more stringent policy,” said Jones. Jones stated that France has over 10,000 terrorists suspects on file that are currently living in France. Many of those were deported over the weekend following the attack. “With a more stringent screening process and perhaps a more stringent policy that if anybody begins to involve themselves in this type of doctrine, or this type of association, that they’re simply (deported),” said Jones. “They’re not allowed to stay within the country. And you may end up (deporting) individuals that would never become terrorists, but at the same time, you take the chance of leaving in the country those who will.” Finally, the question that most directly impacts Bethel: what can students do? “Actually praying I think would help,” said Ellis. “And just being able to talk about it and see what’s going on.” Jones said, “I think number one, become aware of what’s going on, listen to the news and study the subject. Find out what’s happening and what has been done (and) what could be done. Obviously, we could be praying for our leaders to have wisdom in their decision making. There’s some very difficult choices that have to be made.” Jones later said, “I think we need to be aware of what’s happening in the news so we can pray intelligently.” Some, however, expressed hope that redemption may still come from the tragedy. “I think that it’s going to be used for God’s glory, no matter what it is,” stated Austin McCutcheon, junior mechanical engineering major and upperclassman president. “To me, I was very upset by what was happening, but at the same time, I know that it’s going to be good in the end.” When asked how he thinks good could come from the attacks, McCutcheon said, ““Those people are going to come away with stories. We already have stories right now of the people that are experiencing it. And they’re going to grow and we may not see it now, or in the next couple years, but I know in (a) decade or so, we will definitely see the results of God’s work in that time.”

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