[News] The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
global South?

*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 
permanent war.

*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 
are white.

          */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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