Is it still cultural diversity if your team is multi-racial as a by-product of French colonialism? Branko Miletic reports.
WHEN FRANCE won the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 4-2 victory over Croatia, it was France’s second World Cup victory in 20 years. For some, it was a celebration and vindication of France’s multi-ethnic football team.
A total of 15 members of France's 23-man winning squad are of African descent — a fact that divided some in the country before and even well into the tournament.
But these players are not just from Africa; they hail almost exclusively from countries that were once the African colonies of an expansionist and brutal French colonial empire, whose reputation for mass killing and genocide was only exceeded by the actual barbarism it practised.
However, this inconvenient truth did not stop the professional agitators of LICRA (International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism) – a supposedly anti-racist organisation – claiming a day after the final that Croatia’s football team was "racist" because of its player’s "whiteness".
As one of France’s most influential NGOs, LICRA has given itself carte blanche to abuse anyone it deems as being "racist" — even, as in this case, a country that was under Communism for 46 years and was never a colonial power.
However, in this case, racism, much like beauty, can be thought of as being in the eye of the beholder, as the Jewish-led neo-Marxist LICRA openly shares with the likes of the uber-Right wing and anti-Semitic National Rally of Marine Le Pen — a skill for historical amnesia and accommodation of France’s appalling colonial past.
This peculiar trans-political bed-sharing was on public display during the 1980s when French Socialist former President François Mitterrand went out of his way not to prosecute former Vichy officials as Nazi collaborators — some of who were living openly in the banlieue of Paris.
Since both the Left and Right in France seem to have a selective memory when it comes to their own nation’s brutality towards their former colonial subjects, here is a snapshot of French racism and cruelty over the ages — an hors d’œuvre of barbarism if you like.
When the French conquered Martinique and Guadeloupe in 1635, the islands were inhabited by the Carib people. The French hoped to convert them to Catholicism, but Jacques Bouton, a Jesuit missionary, felt that this would not be possible, claiming that the Caribs were too ignorant to ever become Christians. Taking that as a green light, French settlers then set about massacring all of the Caribs, so that by the end of the 17th Century, these Indigenous peoples simply vanished off the face of the earth.
This act of spontaneous genocide allowed the French to transform their Caribbean colonies into plantation societies, where the back-breaking work of growing the sugar cane and transforming it into refined sugar was done by hundreds of thousands of African slaves.
In 1845, the French military massacred a restless Berber tribe of 1,500 people in Algeria who had taken refuge in a cave. The French troops burned the Berbers alive, including all the children, elderly and women.
After the defeat of the Japanese in World War Two, the French were determined to re-establish control over Vietnam, so in 1946, they shelled the port city of Haiphong, killing some 6,000 Vietnamese.
During Algeria’s war of independence (1954-1962), numerous atrocities, including acts of torture were committed by French soldiers, while an estimated 300,000 Algerians died.
All this slaughter was about expanding French economic interests, such as in West Africa. Here, 40 French companies held half the land and backed by French troops these companies were free to operate in ways they would not dare in France, such as using forced labour.
So it’s of little surprise then that, in this football World Cup, the French national team consisted of midfielder Paul Pogba, whose parents arrived from Guinea and that forward Kylian Mbappe's dad is from Cameroon, while his mum is Algerian. Moreover, defender Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in Congo. Others came from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco and Senegal — all former French colonies.
Were it not for colonialism, many of these players would likely not be in France’s national football squad, as France is not an immigrant nation like the U.S., Canada or Australia. It is, rather, a colonial power that still exploits the raw materials of colonialism, such as human capital, to further its own aims, be they economic or, as in this case, sporting.
While the majority of people of colour in France hail from its own former colonial possessions — almost 55 per cent in 2012, this is not just about ancient history.
Visitors to New Caledonia, barely three hours flying time from Australia’s East Coast, will quickly be shocked by the reality of "modern" French colonial rule.
The Whites of the island rule and behave very much like their 19th-Century predecessors, enjoying all the perks and privileges that come with being a ruling elite set high above the indigenous Kanaks, with whom they share the huge lump of nickel in the Pacific.
The willful blindness to the genocide excuser that is Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, or the collective myopia over the genocidal nature of Joseph Stalin’s regime during the Ukrainian Holodomor, proves the Left is as much guilty of hypocrisy as the Right — perhaps even more so, considering its political posturing over its claimed moral dominance.
This hypocrisy has now manifested into farce, whereby a so-called "anti-racist" body such as France’s LICRA, had the gall (or should that be Gaul?) to race-shame a country because it has no players of colour — just because it never exploited African or Asian peoples for its own economic gain.
Moreover, labelling a country’s football team as "racist" just because its players are White, while ignoring the glaring fact the only reason your own national team is multi-racial is because it is a by-product of colonialism, is a new low even for a Left that has lost all moral authority and direction, and is quite simply, déraisonnable.
Branko Miletic is a journalist, editor, historian and author who has written extensively on the wars in the Balkans and post-Yugoslavia politics for the past 20 years. You can follow Branko on Twitter @journovox9.
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