By Oscar Wailoo
Just in case I disappear after this article, I may be on the next plane to Guyana, escorted by the RCMP, compliments of Immigration Minister Chris Alexander who vowed to deport those who become radicalized.
I knew I was in trouble when I realized that not only have I been “radicalized” but I was infected by this dangerous condition long before I entered Canada nearly 46 years ago. That means I lied on my immigration application. Talk about double jeopardy!
I was self-diagnosed after discovering that “radical” means going to the root, the origin of how things come to pass, reformist, unconventional, or being at the limits of control. That’s me. Am I in big trouble or what?
This morbid condition raised its ugly head with the news that three “radicalized” Muslims murdered 10 French political cartoonists, a policeman, and a number of people in a market. I gagged at the atrocity (yes, some radicals respect human life) but it took but a few moments for my mind to start making historical associations, casting me back to 1827 and 1830. That’s the trouble with this condition; it believes in memory.
Alistair Horne’s 1977 classic book A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1062 tells how in 1827, Hussein, the Dey of Algeria, slapped the French Consul in the face, calling him “a wicked, faithless, idol-worshipper.”
The French never forgot the affront and used it as a pretext to invade Algeria in 1830. “Marching to plans based on a Napoleonic project, the French expedition landed at Sidi-Ferruch, a sheltered beach just west of Algiers. The enterprise was accompanied by a touch of fete gallante, with elegant ladies booking accommodation aboard pleasure boats to observe the naval bombardment of Algeria.” (Later they would take over Morocco and Tunisia with Lebanon, Syria, and a whole lot of Africa to follow.)
Eighteen years later Algeria was declared an integral part of France. A hundred and thirty two years, and 500,000 casualties later, the Algerians won their independence after a brutal eight-year war that ended in 1962.
Of course the French colonial project was a noble attempt to civilize the savages and teach them democracy, tolerance, free speech and the right to publish satirical cartoons. But with all those Algerians and their fellow Muslims who entered France as French subjects decades ago, I now know the “civilizing” project failed as these ingrates insist on remembering history, going to the root; in short they remained radicalized.
The puzzled imperial benefactors can’t understand why these brown people are still harping on what occurred centuries ago. After all, they were colonized for their own good. The French and the rest of Europe were merely bearing the “white man’s burden” for their sake. Okay, so they bombed (still bombing) Iraq, destroyed Libya, loosed Jihadists in Syria, applauded as Gaza burned. But that was to save them from their innate savagery.
That over 500,000 Iraqis were killed during their well-intentioned military and economic blockade was a reasonable price to pay; so said former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright. Now, after all that goodwill, they have the temerity to bring death to the shores of those who sacrificed just for their benefit.
So why, when I saw Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marching in the front line in Paris last Sunday to show solidarity with the French and to defend democracy, was I thinking Gaza and that he should be arrested for crimes against humanity? What’s wrong with me?
Why can’t I just follow the lead of CTV, CBC, CNN, the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Fox, and Stephen Harper and know the Charlie Hebdo murders or the attack on Parliament Hill have no antecedent? They were simply attacks on our values and democratic system by unrepentant barbarians? Only the “radicalized” think otherwise. I’m done for.
Perhaps I should do some crowd funding to hire a lawyer to save me from my “radicalized” condition and likely deportation. Please leave your contribution at your nearest roti shop in Scarborough.