Why Your Solidarity with Paris is Misguided

Why Your Solidarity with Paris is Misguided

17th November 2015

By Claire Bernish

The world at large — we are in mourning. Again. Indeed, Paris is in mourning, again. For the second time in less than a year, we are all de facto Parisians, with Facebook profiles, casinos, and whole buildings draped in the blue, white, and red of the French flag. It is solidarity as sympathy, bien sûr — a most poignant message that humanity stands with Paris and will act decisively to avenge the “carnage” unexpectedly wrought by those whose motives most will never comprehend.

Most? Evidently, despite the accumulated knowledge of the entire planet at our disposal through the computer screen, solidarity has escaped some of us. And I am weary.

Without question, I mourn for Paris’ recent victims and their families — and I would never claim knowledgeable firsthand experience of the same. But I refuse — despite my partial French heritage — to cloak myself in nationalism of any stripe or star, particularly not now. Because, besides victims in Paris, an incomprehensibly astronomic number of people have been grieving loss of the highest order for some time — in places whose names roll off our tongues as if it’s accepted that violence simply happens there — and a majority likely couldn’t guess the colors on these victims’ flags.

You see, I also mourn for those killed mere hours before Paris crumbled into chaos, in strikingly similar attacks in Beirut.

I mourn the hundreds of thousands displaced or killed in Syria, no matter their pledged allegiance. No matter their professed religion. No matter.

I mourn for the millions killed in ongoing and renewed, illegal United States’ aggression in Iraq — and those facing a torturous demise from exposure to depleted uranium employed in violation of international and humanitarian law — for reasons far closer to ‘American’ and corporate hegemony than compassionate principle.

I mourn the untold number killed in the United States’ insidious — and seemingly permanent — war in Afghanistan. And the countless children there who know nothing of peace, much less the feeling of safety it brings. And patients and staff recently targeted, bombed, and then shot while fleeing the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz — and the irony of that humanitarian organization’s French roots.

I mourn those forced into human slavery or sex trafficking in Malaysia; and curse the scant hope they escape, now that the massive TPP has garnered U.S. government’s tacit approval of the abhorrence that is human trade.

I mourn for Palestinians, whose land was usurped — and whose lives and infrastructure and families and sense of security and homes are under siege and occupation by an illegal and actively terrorist State.

I mourn the patients and staff at the over 100 healthcare facilities in Yemen that have been bombed since March, and the apparently soulless who found an acceptable target in hospitals. I mourn for Yemen.

I mourn for the victims of complicit government violence in Mexico, and 43 students and their families who lack answers.

I mourn for Chinese men, women, and children working, quite literally, as slaves, so the West can take endless pictures of its narcissistically apathetic self.

I mourn rampant genocide — past and present — for the sake of manifest destiny. And empire. And imperialism. And inexplicable and unstated reasons.

In fact, I mourn for all victims of terror, whether State or group sponsored, without conditions attached to my grief — no matter location, nor loyalty, nor arbitrary geopolitical happenstance of location of a victim’s birth. And I’m already grieving those soon to be terror’s next victims; since, as French President François Hollande jarringly warned, avenging Paris’ victims just birthed (yet another) “pitiless” war — as if gentle were somehow a method to employ in waging war.

Yes, I mourn for Paris. But I do so while weeping in shame at the deplorable supercilious judgment ensconced in Western reaction to it; for countless pitiable xenophobes and their endless vapid justifications; for arrogant commentary from politicians and their media mouthpieces with their embarrassing post-tragedy clamoring to exploit ignorant heartstrings for the appropriate victims; for the endless War of Terror — and the service members who somehow haven’t yet deduced that this would ALL END if they simply refused to f***ing fight.

The fact is, grief on this scale is exhausting. And I’m very nearly out of tears.

So keep these victims around the globe in mind — every, single man, woman and child who has, who is, and who will suffer the maiming, horror, torture, and death that’s as necessary to war as those who take up arms — when you next excuse a politician’s stance on war, because the rest of his or her platform seems really promising. Or, at least, seems the lesser of two evils.

And shake that flag from your social media profile; and your home; and your thoughts. Because as long as you wear just one flag, your attempt to stand with victims of terror is a most embarrassingly hollow solidarity, indeed.

About the author:

Claire Bernish

Born in North Carolina on the first of March in a year not so long ago, Bernish currently resides in San Diego, California. Educated at University of Cincinnati and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she finds interest in social justice, police brutality, exposing the truth behind propaganda, and general government accountability. She joined Anti-Media’s team in May of 2015.

She describes herself:

“I am an activist and journalist: because both my parents were journalists during Watergate; because my father was a DC politician; because plutocratic corporatocracy; because I went to Ferguson following Mike Brown’s murder; because militarized police state; because while livestreaming in Ferguson a CNN crew got out of MY way; because I’ve been homeless several times; because unity of purpose, not mind, will solve everything; because I can tell you from experience there is always something you are not being told; because I want to tell you what they don’t.”

This article republished from theAntiMedia.org under a Creative Commons license.


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  • Moira Payne

    I loved this article and your writing style….until you spoke of our service members and the idea that they could refuse to fight. I am against war. I want a world that is filled with peace, love, and understanding. However, I also understand that a small percentage of our population enlists in our military. Perhaps it is simply for money; perhaps for the free education; perhaps for discipline, camaraderie, and to see a world that they have only read about in textbooks. I do not believe they enlist because they want to kill people. I know when they are given their orders, they cannot afford to think outside of what has been handed to them; they would risk the lives of their team and their country. They are our bravest and all of our heroes. We must hold our government responsible for the orders given and hold compassion for our solders!

  • McKenzie McIntyre

    I hear you. We desperately need to shed this false concept of separation most of all.

  • Marco Pombo

    ya…except that showing compassion does not exclude others…rather, it is a notably inclusive practice

    • Bokowsky


  • Guy Lawfull

    totally agree with the sentiment of this artlcle and also wish that people around the world would wake up to the fact that their tacit approval of the policies of their so-called ‘leaders’ (not that any of them show true leadership) is the only reason that Prime Ministers, Presidents and others can get away with what they carry out ‘in our name’. Shame on all of the leaders for continuing the anti-‘other’ rhetoric and using such events to gather support for their own inherent, self-serving agendas.

  • Steve Weston

    Seriously, written how I see it to, though short on why or who. And yes I read your credentials Claire Bernish, thanks for this. But perhaps I expect more than a comment on the ‘Paris’ incident, perhaps that it should be explained that we are almost in a state of Orwell’s 1984, that there is little truth in media, that those in power are there for much more than our benefit, that so few are in possession of most of the wealth and control………and that that control is not a loving positive control but one quite evil [and no I will not go on to suggest thought police, but I would think that could become possible should we let it !]..Humans in power evil enough it seems to allow mass murder of thousands of people on multiple occasions in order to gain what they want. You see life is not precious where ever you are, where ever you live…………….. to them, yet it is to you or ‘us’, for life is our reason to live.
    So yes next time you see or hear of a few people dying somewhere and the out pouring of grief, before you feel sad for them ……………just check other news outlets be sure that many more have not died somewhere else without media attention and why ? Why didn’t they get a mention, and is there a political reason for this. Beware of the ‘control’ of your thoughts !

  • Bokowsky

    You can mourn as long as you wish. But even If I am against hate, wars, and stupidity of any kind I AM FRENCH. and the time for mourning is over. My government as betrayed the people of France and they keep on doing so those leaders are Traitors to our GREAT NATION. Now sadly “Le mal est fait” Bad is done and things must be put back to place just like in a home where a did has been done. What do you do you stay put?? no you go and seack for Justice and sometimes especially in this case you use the hard ways. this doesn’t mean that hate or revenge is part of it or that Nationalism is taking over. Are you referring to the FN party?? I found them more patriots than any other party actually. Now refusing to fight is a noble idea or ideology But you are completely beside the point. there is nothing that can stop Those murders unless a Bullet. those Bastards are growing in number at an amazing rate due to the cultural despair and decadence that as been growing the last 50 years. their is no moral any more no rationality no limits no end to stupidity and your comment is the proof of what I am putting forward. If Descartes could see this he would pull his hair of his head. you are partly French Good for you. You have been studying, Good for you But you are no way even as a journalist next to what my culture my heritage is about SO PLEASE DON’T WRITE SUCH CRAP. However thank you for the thoughts for my people. I have never been nexter to my Country than Today. I think I understand what my ancestor that fought for their freedom before felt and if you are French Like you say then You should have that feeling too. If you don’t then I’m sorry for you. VIVE LA FRANCE. Now what as to be done is not for me to decide but I hope we will stop following the American government (that is the real threat to our integrity and that we will get of the European union to regain our sovereignty) that we will follow the Russians that are our European Allies and that we will put a stop to the F&#¤%G propaganda and the sold Journalists. We must clean from the inside First and then on the outside. Now that said call me a Nationalist if you like but you will have to call the majority of the French Nationalist too. NO we are PATRIOTS Like the US citizens are to their own Country. WE ARE NO COWARDS. VIVE LA FRANCE

  • Moira Payne

    I am thinking of my father today, who is 89 years old. He joined the military when he was 17 and was sent to Germany during WWII. He came back a few years later and was able to enter and finish college, thanks to his GI Bill. As a first generation college student, this was huge for him. He continued and earned his Ph.D. and became a university professor in Political Science and a world renowned expert in his field. I’ll leave this comment with you, as I do not believe one answer fits all, ever. (Bernie Sanders said something brilliant about the complexity of what we face during the second debate – someone who can both understand war is a last resort and yet give incredible support to our vets.)