Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When the French flics broke up a pro-Algerian demonstration with their high-power water hoses, they were as vicious as the redneck cops in Birmingham

Needless to say, what with the Trayvon Martin case, the French have been all over themselves concerning alleged racism in the United States, suggesting cold-blooded 007s and other professional assassins running around with licenses to kill and gunning innocent people down.

In that perspective, it is interesting to read Dwight Garner's New York Times book review of Dreaming in French, Alice Kaplan’s tome about "the formative year that three ambitious and striking American women — Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis — spent in Paris while in their 20s."
Angela Davis … was in Paris during the Birmingham church bombings in 1963, combing the European edition of The New York Herald Tribune for news. She saw hints of racism in France, a country where black American artists had traditionally fled to escape the oppression they felt in the United States.

About a pro-Algerian demonstration she saw on the Place de la Sorbonne, Ms. Davis wrote: “When the flics broke it up with their high-power water hoses, they were as vicious as the redneck cops in Birmingham.”

After Ms. Davis was charged with murder, conspiracy and kidnapping for her role in the 1970 kidnapping and death of a California judge (she had purchased the weapons used in the crime), her case became a cause célèbre among French writers and intellectuals like Jean Genet and Michel Foucault. They considered her one of their own. There was celebration in Paris when she was acquitted.