There are two ways Boston could react to the French foreign ministry, which has warned its citizens to stay away from certain parts of the city. Avoid going around on foot at night in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury, the government advises its citizens traveling in the United States, amid warnings of such typical American safety hazards as hurricanes and shark attacks.
The first reaction would be indignation. In Ohio, after learning that parts of the Cleveland area were also on the French blacklist, the mayor of Cleveland Heights lashed out: “The French government is foolish and doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.
The other would be to acknowledge that, however unfair, an image problem persists in parts of Boston that can only be fixed by extending a welcoming hand to skeptics. Next Bastille Day, Boston’s new mayor, Dorchester-bred Marty Walsh, should throw a party in the neighborhood — and be sure to invite the French consul.