Non-French war deaths matter
We are all France. Apparently. Though we are
never all Lebanon or Syria or Iraq for some reason. Or a long, long list
of additional places.
We are led to believe that U.S. wars are not tolerated and
cheered because of the color or culture of the people being bombed and
occupied. But let a relatively tiny number of people be murdered in a
white, Christian, Western-European land, with a pro-war government, and
suddenly sympathy is the order of the day.
“This is not just an attack on the French people, it is an attack on
human decency and all things that we hold dear,” says U.S. Senator
Lindsey Graham. I’m not sure I hold ALL the same things dear as the
senator, but for the most part I think he’s exactly right and that
sympathy damn well ought to be the order of the day following a horrific
mass killing in France.
I just think the same should apply to everywhere else on earth as
well. The majority of deaths in all recent wars are civilian. The
majority of civilians are not hard to sympathize with once superficial
barriers are overcome. Yet, the U.S. media never seems to declare deaths
in Yemen or Pakistan or Palestine to be attacks on our common humanity.
I included “pro-war government” as a qualification above, because I
can recall a time, way back in 2003, when I was the one shouting “We are
all France,” and pro-war advocates in the United States were demonizing
France for its refusal to support a looming and guaranteed to be
catastrophic and counterproductive U.S. war. France sympathized with
U.S. deaths on 911, but counseled sanity, decency, and honesty in
response. The U.S. told France to go to hell and renamed french fries in
Congressional office buildings.
Now, 14 years into a global war on terror that reliably produces more
terror, France is an enthusiastic invader, plunderer, bomber, and
propagator of hateful bigotry. France also sells billions of dollars of
weaponry to lovely little bastions of equality and liberty like Saudi
Arabia, carefully ignoring Saudis’ funding of anti-Western terrorist
When U.S. militarism failed to prevent 911, I actually thought that
would mean reduced militarism. When a Russian plane was recently blown
up, I think I imagined for a split second that Russia would learn its
lesson and stop repeating U.S. mistakes. When people were just killed in
France, I didn’t have any time to fantasize about France coming to its
senses, because a “socialist” president was already doing his
“To all those who have seen these awful things,” said François
Hollande, “I want to say we are going to lead a war which will be
pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such
atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined
France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let
itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”
The video doesn’t look like Bush, and the French word combat does not necessarily mean war just because the Washington Post
says it does. It can mean fight in some other sense. But what other
sense exactly, I’m not sure. Prosecuting anyone responsible would of
course make perfect sense, but a criminal justice system ought not to be
pitiless. It’s a war that ought to be pitiless. And it’s a war that
will guarantee more attacks. And it’s a war that France has begun.
“It is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners,” said Albert Camus.
Please go back to thinking, France.
We do love you and wish you well and are deeply sorry for U.S. influence against your better tendencies.