Why Paris (and the world) is burning

In a radio interview, Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, reacted to recent attacks in Paris.

Glen Ford
Glen Ford

The French – this goes for the British and for the Americans too – they’re like pyromaniacs who’ve set a fire that they can’t control.
It’s the fire of Islamic fundamentalist jihad carefully stoked for nearly four decades, ever since the CIA and the Saudi Arabians with the cooperation of the rest of the Europeans invested billions of dollars to create the international jihadist network with its headquarters originally in Afghanistan.
The attacks in Paris are just the latest examples of blowback, only this time on imperial soil. But these should all be seen as self-inflicted wounds.
France has a whole lot of history to answer for. It’s terrified of what it calls the self-radicalized youth among France’s large Arab minority. But these people, who are stopped and frisked on the streets of Paris and other French cities at higher rates even than Black Africans who are now French.
These people were radicalized by French racism. And French racism is a product of French imperialism.
The French foreign minister claimed they were singled out for attacks because the French like to dance. Well, the French have never been very famous for their dancing. But they are infamous for having killed a million Algerians in the 1950s and ’60s in trying to put down the Algerian quest for independence.
When the French say that (Nov. 13) violence was the worst on French soil since World War II, that is a straight-up lie. The French police, in 1961, attacked a peaceful demonstration of Algerians and massacred 200 of them and threw scores of their bodies into the Seine River.
The young French folks who are the grandchildren of those Arab victims don’t need to be self-radicalized or taught by some imam about French racism. They know it firsthand.
The French and British cut up the Middle East into little places they thought they could control and in the process favored one sect or ethnic group over another. They did that in a grand strategy of divide and conquer and laid the groundwork for the bloodshed in that part of the world we see today.
France also claims the Muslim world hates it because it stands for liberte, fraternite and egalite but all of that’s just for white Frenchmen only. During the whole course of the French revolution, when they were citing those glorious principles, not one Haitian slave was set free by the French. The Haitians had to make war against the French and free themselves.
France claims it is the great gift to the world because it has a secular government … but it’s the second-largest arms merchant to Saudi Arabia, the most fundamentalist and reactionary state in the Muslim world.
In alliance with Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Britain, France has waged war against secular governments from Afghanistan to Iraq, to Libya, to Syria. Now that war against secularism has come home. Yet the French cry that evil forces are attacking because France is a secular state and, oh yes, the people there like to dance.
France is only a champion of secularism for white Frenchmen. In the Arab world, France gives arms to jihadists to bring down secular governments. The fact France has a nominally socialist government makes some leftists in the U.S. wonder why this is happening. But France had a socialist-led government in the 1950s and ’60s when it was killing a million Algerians who were seeking independence and there were communists in that government as well who went along with the carnage.
By and large, the French, like most white Americans, don’t give a damn about the rights of colored people in the world, especially their colonial subjects. They don’t care that these jihadists, who they have financed and nurtured, attacked Beirut and killed defenceless civilians because those are people of color. But France was behind the partition of the Middle East in such a way that Lebanon was so fraught with sectarian divisions that it had to undergo a long civil war.
So now Paris is burning and people wonder why. Paris is burning because Paris has done more than almost any other country besides the U.S. to set the whole world on fire.