Nearly a billion dollars have been raised in days to rebuild the historic Paris cathedral, but some are asking why other causes do not receive the same enthusiasm.
More than a billion dollars have been pledged to rebuild the Notre Dame du Paris (Our Lady of Paris) after a fire severely damaged the building, completely destroying its iconic steeple.
While nobody was killed, the fire prompted a huge outpouring, with politicians, and ordinary people on social media expressing their sadness and pledging their solidarity with France.
French President Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild the structure within five years, and there has been no shortage of donors to make sure he can.
France’s richest families, the respective owners of Louis Vuitton, Kering, and L’Oreal have pledged $700m alone, and others including Apple’s Tim Cook also joined the effort.
.@EmmanuelMacron, a former banker, eliminated France's wealth tax because the rich apparently couldn't afford to underwrite social programs at the level they were.— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) April 18, 2019
Then the Notre Dame fire happened, and billionaires got into a contest to give away money.https://t.co/SrRNSMkBCo pic.twitter.com/021c7Q8S8m
Corporations, such as Disney and Ubisoft, who have both featured the cathedral in their movies and video games, also promised to put millions of dollars towards rebuilding it.
The drive to rebuild the cathedral, which was immortalised in Victor Hugo’s the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’, has moved many, but also left others asking if the money could have been pledged on better causes and why there is not as much enthusiasm for other tragedies.
The country also has 8.8 million people living below the poverty line, and economic hardships have forced tens of thousands onto the streets to protest as part of the ‘Yellow Vest’ movement.
That’s some left some asking whether donations were even needed.
“These massive Notre Dame donations are going to backfire on Macron,” wrote Scottish rapper and social activist, Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey on Twitter, adding: “In a matter of 48 hours, the big question most people around the world are now asking is: what other pressing issues could the super-wealthy solve in a couple of days?”
“This is perhaps the ultimate question,” he continued.
These massive Notre Dame donations are going to backfire on Macron. In a matter of 48 hours, the big question most people around the world are now asking is: what other pressing issues could the super-wealthy solve in a couple of days?— Darren Loki McGarvey (@lokiscottishrap) April 17, 2019
This is perhaps the ultimate question.
The sentiment was widespread, with New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, also pointing out that a fraction of the money raised could help other causes.
“I'm thrilled that people have raised $1 billion to restore Notre Dame. But it seems shortsighted that we can't raise 10 percent as much to reduce the risk that Congo's Ebola outbreak will spread around the world,” he posted on Twitter.
Others contrasted the response to the Notre Dame fire to the response after tragedies, such as the Grenfell fire.
In June 2017, at least 72 people died in London’s Grenfell tower, after cladding chosen by the local council for its low price, caught alight and engulfed the building in flames.
Many Londoners voiced anger at British Prime Minister Theresa May’s response to each event.
I'm thrilled that people have raised $1 billion to restore Notre Dame. But it seems shortsighted that we can't raise 10 percent as much to reduce the risk that Congo's Ebola outbreak will spread around the world. https://t.co/72iIHO4ME4— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) April 17, 2019
Almost two years after scores died in Grenfell, other buildings in the UK continue to use the same cladding used in the tower, as the British government stopped short of ordering its removal.
Those who survived the fire, are still struggling to find adequate accommodation.
However, after the Notre Dame fire, May offered Macron the UK’s full help in the rebuilding effort.
“Mad how Theresa May is supporting the restoration of Notre Dame yet she can completely disregard the fact that Grenfell Tower survivors are being forced out of their temporary accommodation?” Wrote one person on Twitter, named Alex.
“Nice to see ur supporting the people of your country,” he continued.
mad how theresa may is supporting the restoration of notre dame yet she can completely disregard the fact that grenfell tower survivors are being forced out of their temporary accommodation? ok love, good move x nice to see ur supporting the people of ur country x— alex (@pengggboi) April 17, 2019