Tag Archives: #we are

Je suis X, we are Y: the power of identification and the rule of three


On that fateful September day in 2001, in the aftermath of the attacks on the U.S. that would change history, an anchorwoman on France’s main TV news show, Nicole Bacharan, uttered these words: “Tonight, we are all Americans.” It was a sentiment felt and understood keenly around the world, and the phrase was printed on the front page of the French newspaper Le Monde the next day. Almost 40 years earlier, in June 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy declared during a speech in West Berlin his country’s support for the new western nation now standing in the shadow of the recently erected Berlin Wall. “Ich bin ein Berliner,” Kennedy stated. “I am a Berliner.” The 1960 epic movie Spartacus reaches its emotional climax when a multitude of slaves, asked by Crassus to give up their leader by pointing him out from the crowd, each stands up to proclaim: “I am Spartacus.” Now fast-forward to the present day, after an unthinkable massacre in Paris that took the lives of 12 journalists, and we all stand together in disgust and protest by uttering three simple French words: “Je suis Charlie.” Continue reading