Friday, July 15, 2016

The past as prologue

No country can escape its past. (Certainly the United States hasn't, as we discovered most recently in Dallas.) France's past is Algeria. In the 1950s I was stationed for a year and a half in Orleans, a hundred kilometers south of Paris, and I rode the train a couple of times a month to escape the boredom of caserne life. The highway bridges were black steel, and every one had a cry of the heart painted across it in white. They appeared in alteration:

Algérie française 

FLN 

Ami Go Home!

The last was directed at me, of course. The first two staked out the alternative and incompatible positions on whether France would remain in Algeria. The  Front de libération nationale won the war, as guerrilla movements usually do, but millions of Algerians remained in France, to pack the slums around Paris and other cities, and to provide a home for the terrorists who now torment that wonderful country.


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