Riots raging in Paris against fuel taxes turned into an anti-government movement that drove protesters to “violent demonstrations” – looting and setting cars and buildings on fire - according to the Art Newspaper. Their path of destruction began with graffiti defacing one of the most famous monuments in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe, and smashing the face of the statue of Marianne, an icon of liberty, equality and fraternity, at the monument. Yahoo quoted French president Emmanuel Macrone as saying that the city “looked like a war scene” and that he worried about the effect on tourism.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had the same concern, noting that the uprising “decimated France's image.”

Trashing art tributes to the state is a form of protest against the state

Vandalizing the Arc de Triomphe is particularly shocking given the historic significance of the shrine. (More about that in a moment). And smashing Marianne, France's symbol of liberty, is tantamount to defacing, say, the Statue of Liberty or America's Marine Corps War Memorial near Arlington, VA. The French war tribute was designed in the image of the Arch of Titus, ancient Rome's testament to that country's focus on victory in war. As historian Hendrik Willem van Loon put it in his 1937 book The Arts, “the Romans specialized in triumphant arches” to commemorate their wins and they festooned them with concentrates of pictorial information about events during the Emperor's campaigns – all in the form of sculpture.

The French connection to ancient Rome stands in plain sight

The French version of the Arch of Titus honors those who died during the Napoleonic Wars. And the statue of Marianne at the Arc de Triomphe memorialized the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity that arose from the French Revolution. But these values may well be tested by the current unrest among the migrants that flock to the city.

As The Guardian reported in May, riot police had to move more than 2,000 people sleeping beneath bridges and on the pavement along canals. Mayor Hidalgo blamed President Macrone for not providing government funding to aid the large influx of people.

Current events are nothing new

All of which conjures up the 1948 movie classic "Arch of Triumph” based on the novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque.

It tells the story of Paris before World War II when it was overcrowded with refugees - in that case, to evade deportation by the Nazis. These refugees also lived in the shadows. history, then, keeps repeating itself and if governments don't get better at solving problems, high-minded artworks like Marianne that pay tribute to triumphs may be smashed, too. Yahoo noted that the ruined face of Marianne “symbolizes the fury” of the Paris protests. Given the White House's mismanagement of illegal immigration, the trashing of the Statue of Liberty is not unthinkable.