On the other hand, I should applaud her for her efforts. If there is one thing that the French absolutely cannot stand, it would be an American weighing in with an opinion on what the French should do in their own land. She should be encouraged to continue on. As one of the more famous figures in the history of France once said: "Never interrupt and enemy when they are making a mistake."
From medievalist Dr. Dorothy Kim, regarding the burning of Notre Dame:
To begin, as someone who works on the 12th and 13th c. and also in medieval musicology and art history, I have in fact written or worked on things related to Gothic art, Notre Dame polyphony, etc. I know that a lot of medievalists are feeling deep grief about this (though we hope that some things in the early reports were wrong and we can save some of the material artifacts).
However, I would like to point out that the far right is already promulgating conspiracy theories that this is basically the work of religious outsiders (i.e. Islamaphobia and Antisemitism) and that the burning of Notre Dame is a sign that western civilization and the values of the Christian West are under attack. My colleagues who work on alt-right things have informed me that Richard Spencer and Ben Shapiro are already speaking about this. You can literally look at the Twitter and Facebook threads under "Notre Dame Civilization" and you will see all of this.
If you are planning to write a thing and or going to be interviewed by mainstream news agencies, please do not say things that will be immediately used to stoke this "western civilization" we are under "attack" rhetoric. In particular, avoid using the term civilization, and especially western civilization. Avoid making this about Catholicism and or Christianity. Also, avoid the French nationalism angle, because that is just going to stoke a lot of white supremacist French Nationalism/Catholicism towards really vulnerable groups already under attack out there in Europe. Remember that Joan of Arc is a symbol for the French far right of all things French and National.
So, work on counternarratives people. Work on discussing how governments how have the control of keeping up buildings, art, etc. of the past that are major tourist sites, do not fund these things--same can be said of the Brazilian fire and the National Museum there. Discuss that. But stay away from the FAR RIGHT BUZZWORDS and RHETORIC: No Western Civilization. No Civilization. No French Nationalism. No Catholic Nationalism etc.
In the coming weeks, you will be turned to as experts to discuss the burning of Notre Dame for news outlets, please be really mindful and careful about how you express your rhetoric and your discussions to not encourage that what you say be used in order to cause harm to those targeted in the far right rhetoric.
Dr Dorothy Kim
I will conclude by agreeing with at least some of what she says: Notre Dame began as a Medieval Cathedral, but it is not so now. It has been added to, renovated, restored many times. Restoring to it as it was would inevitably beg the question: "As it was when?" That, at least, is valid. I can agree that it is no longer completely medieval. But though it has changed with the time, it has never ceased being a Cathedral, and that is what this author wants to remove from it now. As for the rest of what she writes- it is standard 'control the narrative' agitprop to further that end.Addendum 1: Also, things involving restoring it to its original medieval etc. or even resurrecting etc. Not a good idea to go there. It falls into the "civilization" trap. It's not a "medieval" cathedral in the sense that it's been worked on for centuries and "restored" for the sake of French romantic Nationalism. Use this as a chance to think about a different counternarrative, a different sort of future for Notre Dame. Art historians and architecture types can argue about it, but as a digital humanities type, I do wonder about are interest in "faithful" to the original (what original). Think about remediation not about revival or restoration (the latter two words, again, falls too much into a civilization trap).
Addendum 2: Also avoid "Judeo-Christian"... seriously... talk about living spaces of use, about the complexities of upkeep, about governments not giving money to make sure things can be maintained, safe, secure, etc. Just do not make your discussion, your piece, your interview into far right cat nip.
Addendum 3: Don't use "western" or the beginning of "western"... this falls into the western civilization trap. I am looking at you musicologists.
Addendum 4: This is to the art historians, you and I know what are in those stained glass windows that are deeply, systematically racist and terrible. So do not do the "restore" "recreate" thing, if the windows are gone, we do not need to "recreate" them. You need to find ways to think about Notre Dame for the future that is not deeply antisemitic, Islamaphobic, antiblack, etc."