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Saadi Yacef, RIP

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Last week, we had a very unfortunate comment thread when I mentioned that one of the bombers portrayed in The Battle of Algiers still lives. Too many commenters basically preferred colonialism to the use of violence to evict colonial occupiers from their land. This is ridiculous and moral cowardice in the face of oppression. The worst kind of liberalism is that which sits in their comfortable developed world homes and tsks-tsks at the tactics of desperate struggles overseas.

It’s time to revisit this because Saadi Yacef has died. Yacef was one of the leaders of the Algerian Revolution and the one in charge of getting Gillo Pontecorvo to make The Battle of Algiers. He then played himself in it to great power. He never regretted the violence either. What was the alternative? The best part about the film is that it stared the deaths straight in the face and made us understand why they had to happen. The triple bombing scene is so great because it shows the face of a baby who the viewer now knows has to die for Algerians to be free. Is it sad? Yes. It is unfortunate? Yes. It is necessary? Yes. Admitting that is called engaging in the real world. Not admitting that and demanding that the people of Algeria should have engaged in some sort of nonviolent protest that would have made global liberals feel comfortable is just ideology at work, totally disconnected from the reality of colonialism.

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