A truly despicable slice of Western history has been revealed: The Americans and Brits insisted that the troops who were to march through Paris at its liberation in 1944 should be all white, regardless of the sacrifices made by British, French and American black soldiers.
The issue arose, according to this BBC report, because General De Gaulle insisted that French troops lead the march. However, most French units were a mix of white and black troops and that just wouldn’t do for the Allies.
In January 1944 Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, Major General Walter Bedell Smith, was to write in a memo stamped, “confidential”: “It is more desirable that the division mentioned above consist of white personnel. “This would indicate the Second Armoured Division, which with only one fourth native personnel, is the only French division operationally available that could be made one hundred percent white” …
A document written by the British General, Frederick Morgan, to Allied Supreme Command stated: “It is unfortunate that the only French formation that is 100% white is an armoured division in Morocco. “Every other French division is only about 40% white. I have told Colonel de Chevene that his chances of getting what he wants will be vastly improved if he can produce a white infantry division.”
A suitable French unit could not be found without removing all the black troops and replacing them with soldiers from other units, many of them not even French.
In the end, nearly everyone was happy. De Gaulle got his wish to have a French division lead the liberation of Paris, even though the shortage of white troops meant that many of his men were actually Spanish. The British and Americans got their “Whites Only” Liberation even though many of the troops involved were North African or Syrian.
We were lucky enough to have large numbers of Africans, Indians, black and Native Americans and others fight and die on our side in that war, but we were too sick in the head to recognize them as heroes when the time came. What a miserable load of hypocrites we were.
This was my wrap up of the 2009 BC Provincial election. I thought it might be an interesting contrast with today’s situation which has changed drastically.
So we had the election yesterday. Overall, little has changed. Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals were returned to power for the third election in a row, while Carole James’ New Democrats stay as Opposition. The number of seats held by each side was essentially unchanged.
It was, I guess, a perfect recession election where the electorate decided to keep the status quo to get some stability. Regardless of the NDP ads, most voters see Campbell’s middle-to-right policies as safer at this time. And it means that Campbell’s innovative Carbon Tax keeps going, and Gordo will be doing the glad handing at the Olympics next year.
Three matters of interest: turnout, the Greens, and electoral reform.
Back in the 80s when bare-knuckle politicking was BC’s style, the turnouts regularly hit 75%. In the last election in 2005 there was much gnashing of teeth and wailing because only 55% of the electorate bothered to vote. This time, the numbers fell to an astonishing 48%. I haven’t got a clear read on that (though I doubt so many consciously decided to follow an anarchist path of non-voting), but it is the most interesting part of the election to me. Were people too depressed about the Canucks loss that they couldn’t get out of the house? Was it so obvious that Campbell would win? Was the campaign simply so boring?
Then there is the utter failure of the Green Party. They will finish with about 8% of the vote, a fall of at least a point from 2005. And this in an election when Jane Sterk managed to force herself onto the Leadership Debate on TV. They were definitely marginalized in the media, but they were last time too. Even Sterk finished a bad third in her riding. Perhaps the Liberals adoption of a Carbon Tax put such a dent in the Greens that they couldn’t recover. Their failure to move ahead was a bit of a surprise to me as I thought they would do better.
And finally, we saw the death of a form of proportional representation called the Single Transferable Vote or STV. My guess is that it was just too complicated. The benefits (if any) were not sold hard enough to overcome the obvious complications. It needed 60% positive vote to be adopted, but in the end 61% voted against it. I’m happy to see it go as it distanced the elected from the electors even further than today. It would have been the exact opposite of direct democracy.
So, the next four years here will be much the same as the last four. Next time, we will probably have three new leaders to consider.