The Gruesome Murder of George Floyd: How It Relates to The Dark History of Slavery Colonialism and Its Comparison to France

By Sianny Rooney

Riots have sparked all over US’ cities for more than a week now for the extrajudicial killing of a black man named George Floyd on May 25 in Minnesota, USA. Similar protests on police’s violence after the death of George Floyd also starting in France for the murder of Adama Traoré, a black man suffocated while he was pinned down by gendarmes after his arrest in July 2016. Around 20,000 protesters gathered in Paris on June 2 to show solidarity for victims of police brutality and to demand justice for Traoré. 

Avenue de Clichy, Paris on June 2, 2020. Protesters in front of burning garbage, bicycles, scooters in the name of Adama Traoré and George Floyd. © Mohammad GHANNAM Source: AFP

In April 2020, similar police’s brutality and racism even though not resulting in death also occurred to a man of colour from Egypt who was humiliated and beaten up by the police inside the police van in Ile-Saint Denis. Suspected of theft of building materials, the man jumped to the river Seine and when the police managed to take him out from the river he was mocked in a very racist way and received some violent abuse inside the police’s van. One of the police said “A ‘bicot’ like that doesn’t swim” which followed by the laughter from the other police. The word “bicot” which derived from the word “l’arbicot” (means “petit arabe” or little Arab in French) is a very racist language term that goes back to the French colonial history.

In the video of the incident from the Twitter account of ‘Là-bas si j’y suis’, media site where journalist and activist Taha Bouhafs works and reported the incident, we can hear the scream and cry of the Egyptian man suspected of theft and the laughters of the police inside the van.

Journalist and writer Claude Askolovitch explained this police’s racism and the origin of the racist word “bicot” in “28 Minutes” on Arte TV. The word came from the 19th century when French army colonised Algeria and the word is used to add insult to the oppressed Algerian people who have to obey their French colonisers. It started with the word “larbi” or “l’arabe” (means Arab) which later on transformed to “larbicot” and in 1892 it became “bicot” (means little Arab) which became an authorised insult to use to the North Africans people. There are other racist terms such as “l’ignoble crouille” (horrible North African Arab), “melon” (person from Arab origin), “raton” (rat), “bougnoule” (black, north african), “youpin” (person with origin or belief in Judaism), etc. 

Claude Askolovitch also commented that these police’s behaviour brings the French back to a time when racism was a way of being French (“Ce temps ou le racisme était une manière d’etre francais”), implying that there was a systemic racism in France or that racism was part of the French culture, embedded in the French’s DNA. 

France like USA also has a very dark history of slavery (more than 400 years ago) and colonialism (ancient form of imperialism). Until today France still imperialise its ex-colonies countries in Africa and the French central bank “Banque de France” governs their currencies, which is unitedly named “CFA Franc”. France pillages Africa’s natural resources and governs every aspect of those countries in Africa from economic, politic, democracy, etc.  

The beautiful city of Nantes, France despite its very dark history of slavery. Pictured here is The Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. Photo Credit: Avion Tourism

Memorial of the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes, France is a symbolic witness to France’s horrific past of slavery, abuse of another human beings and trading black slaves as if human beings are commodity. The hypocrisy of how France perceives its dark history and acknowledges its crimes against humanity is clearly shown when the monument to commemorate the victims of slavery is called the “Memorial of the Abolition of Slavery”, as if the perpetrator takes credit of its own crimes by making himself a hero by abolishing slavery, a slavery that the perpetrator created in the first place. Clearly there is a partial denial on how France is accepting and taking responsibility of its past.

Mémorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage (Memorial of the Abolition of Slavery) in Nantes, France. ©Discover Paris!

It is important to understand that to justify the inhumane slavery and colonialism, it is crucial to see the oppressed as less human than the oppressor, it is important to see them as lower, objectify them as sub-human to devoid us from conscience of the horrible wrong things we did to others (another human beings). Thus it is important to instil racism for political purposes so the oppressor can build an empire for power and profit. Racism is a tool of manipulation in the quest for control, power, hegemony and greed. 

The systemic or institutionalised racism in French Police or in France as a state as general definitely goes a long way back to its dark history of slavery and colonialism. And until this matter is fully addressed, there will always be the injustice sentiment and social unrest lurking under the surface of society, ready to emerge anytime.

Photo Source: FemmedInfluence

For every nation to develop or advance in humanity, it has to embrace its past and history fully no matter how dark it is, and to learn from its history because those who have never learned from history are doomed to repeat it. 

Understanding Human Behaviours, Psychology (How to Maintain Division or Population Control in Society through Institutionalised Racism)

“Divide and Conquer” or “Divida et Impera” (Divide and Rule) of Julius Caesar’s strategy to divide Rome is an old strategy that has been used even before Julius Caesar was born. It is an old tactic used by our “ruling elites” to easily manipulate, divide and distract us, to keep us busy fighting and destroying each other instead of realising the real issues and concentrating our power against the real “enemies”. 

To easily control us, we need to be ignorant and brainwashed to keep us dumb and docile, to deprive us from any chance of realizing of what is going on and any chance of fighting back. To easily divide people, racism can be a useful tool.

In our modern society, to control us the people, these are the several pillars of strategy being used against us:

1) Fake Corporate Mainstream Media

Our mainstream medias are owned by the ruling elites. The purpose of the mainstream media is to manufacture our consent, perfectly explained by the renowned intellectual Prof. Noam Chomsky in his book “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media”, written together with Prof. Edward S. Herman. Its purpose is to manufacture our consent to align with the ruling elites’ plan and agenda. For example to go to war which is consent to justify killing others in the name of lies and profit, not for humanitarian reasons. The mainstream corporate media is a propaganda tool to propagate lies, to brainwash our way of thinking, and manufacture consent for the ruling elites’ agenda. It is also one of the main tools to instil hate, fear, white supremacy and racism in society for example by propaganda of blaming the immigrants for all the problems occurred in a country or instilling “Yellow Fear” by blaming China for the Covid-19 pandemic. 

2)  Education System that Indoctrinate not Educate

Our education system does not educate but instead indoctrinate. It teaches us lies instead of our real history. Our education system shapes our way of thinking for the purposes of aligning with our ruling elites’ agenda. Its objective is not to make us smarter but to control our mind and how we are supposed to think. Indoctrination is an act of war to people’s mind and intelligence. 

Education system is the other arm of the propaganda after the Fake Mainstream Media. It can act as a propaganda arm for the government or the ruling class, to maintain control, division and White Supremacy which is the deep ideology behind racism. Education institution teaches lies in history, lies in the concept of economic and finance so that the gullible masses have difficulty understanding the manipulation, the fraud and the mass plundering of wealth by our ruling class (government, elites, bankers, corporations, billionaires, etc). By not teaching the truth in history and inducing chauvinism one can feel superior compare to other nationalities which can lead to deluded exceptionalism. This delusional superiority and exceptionalism can drive one to become white supremacist or racist.

3) Agents Provocateur (The Fake Experts)

Our world is inundated with incompetent, pseudo-elected and unelected leaders and experts who don’t have the people’s interests in their mind. They are paid and bought for, to do the bidding for the ruling elites.

The leader of USA, President Donald Trump often spews racism in his speech. Bill Gates who recently suddenly appeared all over the news and media to talk about Covid-19 pandemic as if he is an expert on pandemic and idolised as a genius and generous donor by the mainstream media turned out to be a scam when the real truth comes out. We pay respect or listen to the wrong people or the wrong experts because that is what the mainstream media and ruling elites want for us.

In France, the agent provocateur expert in racism is none other than the right-wing extremist Eric Zemmour. Eric Zemmour is notoriously well known in France for his racist sexist comments or speeches and for inciting hate against minorities. He has been sued several time by ‘SOS Racisme’, a non-profit organisation that tries to eliminate racism and xenophobia in France. The problem with Zemmour is that in a normal democratic society, he will not be given platform for his own regular TV shows for him to spew hate and racism. For sure there is a vested interest by the ruling elites and the mainstream media for Zemmour to appear regularly on TV giving his opinions and views to influence the public sphere as much as possible and to move the public more to the extreme right-wing political ideology. What is even more bizarre is Zemmour’s cult followers who really believe whatever Zemmour says and support his racism and sexism. As long as there are agent provocateur like Zemmour and his blind incapable of logical thinking followers, ending racism and sexism will be a very difficult battle.

In France police violence and brutality has spread to other citizens not just to citizens of colour, example during the Yellow Vest Movement or early in this year alleged murder of Cédric Chouviat, a delivery man who was stopped by the police because of his dirty motorcycle’s number plate that resulted in a violent inspection control that caused Cédric Chouviat his death.

To fight racism and police brutality we also need to fight impunity of those in power who have done wrong to the people. There should be justice in a society for it to be able to run smoothly and to have peace.

From Slavery to Modern Slavery, White Supremacy, Systemic Racism, and Imperialism

There is still a long road to fight racism and to achieve equality and justice for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. The old form of slavery and colonialism have evolved to another more modern form of racism and imperialism, but the essence is still the same. At the core, it is discrimination and exceptionalism, to see others different races from the White as subordinate, as less human than the White that gives the White the illusion that they have the rights to do everything including inhumane things to others different than them.

To have deep understanding in order to bring real systemic changes we have to understand the root cause of the problems which linked to the West’s dark history of slavery and colonialism, understand the pillars of strategy used against us listed above, know the truth and be well-informed as responsible world citizens. We need to solve the real root causes of the problems and not just its symptoms. To bring real changes, we as society as a whole, the whole world have to relentlessly fight until real systemic changes are achieved.

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