[News] The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 19 12:05:21 EST 2015
*The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement*
*by BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka*
November 18, 2015
*/“The white supremacist ideology and world-view, normalized and thus
unrecognized by most, has become a form of psychopathology.”/*
I received a message from one of my friends in Lebanon who asked with
feigned curiosity why the U.S. media only gave a passing reference to
the bombing in Beirut before turning to non-stop coverage of the attacks
in Paris. Of course, like many of us she already knew the answer – that
in the consciousness of the White West there is a premium on the value
of White life.
Acknowledging this fact is neither new nor should it be particularly
controversial. Its obviousness is apparent to anyone who is honest. We
saw it in the response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks where the world
(meaning the White West) engaged in a gratuitous expression of moral
outrage against terrorism. But that outrage against terrorism didn’t
extend to the two thousand Nigerians who were murdered by Boko Haram the
same weekend that a massive rally in Paris
took place to condemn the Charlie Hebdo attack. At that rally not one
word of solidarity or condemnation of terrorism in Nigeria was expressed
by the speakers or the thousands gathered that day.
*/“Non-European life simply does not have equal value.”/*
What my friend and all of us who have been the victims of the selected
morality and oppressive violence of Western civilization over the last
five hundred years have come to understand is that non-European life
simply does not have equal value.
How else can one explain the complete lack of attention to the humanity
of the victims of ISIS attacks in Beirut and in Bagdad the day before or
the lack of concern for the lives of the over 7,000 people in Yemen
murdered by the Saudi Arabia dictatorship, with U.S. and NATO support?
And is it unfair to suggest that it is the diminished value of life of
the lives of people in the global South that allows supporters of Bernie
Sanders to dismiss his support for U.S. war-mongering policies in the
*The Liberal Roots of White Supremacist Psychopathology *
In the classrooms of Western universities and occasionally in civic
courses in high schools, students are introduced to the ideas of liberal
humanitarianism that are supposed to characterize the core values of the
European enlightenment. The enlightenment is supposed to represent the
progressive advancement of all of humanity by the thinkers of Europe
who, of course, represented the leading edge of collective humanity.
But what is not sufficiently interrogated in these classes is the fact
that while these grand theories of “mankind’s” inherent equality,
rationality and even “perfectibility,” were being discussed, those
theorists had already arrived at a consensus. This consensus was on the
criteria for determining which individuals and groups would be
recognized as having equal membership in the human family, what Hannah
Arendt referred to as those people who had the “right to have rights.”
According to the criteria, women and the non-European world were
excluded or assigned to a lower order of humanity. Eurocentric
academicians, still a hegemonic force in the West, don’t historicize the
“great” humanitarian theories of Europe and critically juxtapose the
rise of those theories with the concrete practices of European powers.
Those practices involved the systematic slaughter of millions of
Indigenous people throughout the America’s and the African slave trade
that made Europe fat and rich and allowed for the creation of a class of
intellectuals freed-up from the struggle to earn a living and able to
engage in the higher contemplations of life.
*/“Women and the non-European world were excluded or assigned to a lower
order of humanity.”/*
However, Eurocentric liberalism was never just confined to the academy.
It became the hegemonic ideological force that embedded itself in the
culture and collective consciousness of the Western project and with it
the de-valuation of non-European life and culture. In other words, the
white supremacist ideology and world-view, normalized and thus
unrecognized by most, has become a form of psychopathology. It is the
cognitive dissonance that Fanon talks about regarding white supremacy as
part of the colonial mindset and what James Baldwin refers to as the
“lie of white supremacy” that has distorted the personalities, lives and
the very ability of many white people to grasp reality.
However, the contradictions in the spheres of ideas and culture are not
the real threat. The construction of a Western collective consciousness
that is unable to cognitively process information and consider knowledge
beyond the assumptions of its own world-views and values is dangerous
enough, but the ease with which humanity is stratified with Europeans
and their societies representing the apex of human development is the
real threat because that belief has resulted in the rationalization for
the crimes of colonialism, slavery and genocide, and the politics of
*The White Lives Matter Movement writ large, played out on the
international stage *
Despite the spirited defense of the positive aspects of liberalism from
John Rawls to radicals like Slavoj Zizek
the racist and sexist contradictions of liberalism was once again
confirmed by the obscenely disproportionate response to the attacks in
Paris that once again demonstrated that liberalism is no more than a
racist ideological construct posing as trans-historical philosophy.
However, let me be clear, my critique of the moral hypocrisy of the West
should not be read as a rationalization for the horrific crimes
committed in Paris a few days ago.
The intentional murder of non-combatants is a recognizable war crime
that can rise to the level of a crime against humanity and should always
be condemned with the perpetrators brought to justice. That legal
principle is based on the moral principle of the equal value of all life
and everyone’s human right to life. The defense and enforcement of those
principles requires, however, that all states and groups be subjected to
the same legal and ethical standards and that all are held accountable.
*/“Some states – like the United States – proudly claim their
‘exceptionality,’ meaning impunity from international norms, as a
self-evident natural right.”/*
But in the context of the existing global power relations, crimes
committed by Western states and those states aligned with the West as
well as their paramilitary institutions escape accountability for crimes
committed in the non-European world. In fact some states – like the
United States – proudly claim their “exceptionality,” meaning impunity
from international norms, as a self-evident natural right.
And in that sense, while the victims of the violence in Paris may have
been innocent, France was not. French crimes against Arabs, Muslims and
Africans are ever-present in the historical memory and discourse of many
members of those populations living in France. Those memories, the
systemic discrimination experienced by many Muslims and the
collaboration of French authorities with the U.S. and others that gave
aid and logistical support to extremist elements in Syria and turned
their backs while their citizens traveled to Syria to topple President
Assad, became the toxic mix that resulted in the blowback on November 13.
Although a number of the dead in Paris are young Arabs, Muslims and
Africans, in the global popular imagination, France, like the U.S. (even
under a Black president), is still white.
So in Iraq the Shia will continue to die in the thousands
<https://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/> from ISIS bombs; the Saudi’s
will continue to slaughter Houthi’s with U.S. and NATO assistance; and
Palestinian mothers will continue to bury their children, murdered by
Zionist thugs in and out of uniform, without any outcry from the West.
CNN and others will give non-stop coverage to the attacks in Paris
because in the end we all really know that the lives that really matter
*/Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and
geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and
editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report.
He is a contributor to /**“Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of
American Violence”/(Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be
reached at /**/www.AjamuBaraka.com/* <http://www.ajamubaraka.com/>
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