Wade's World

Just leave it where Jesus flang it.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I haven't posted for awhile, for numerous unimportant reasons, the totality of which adds up to "I'm too busy." That is not the subject of this post, however, but instead this:

Local authorities in France have been allowed to impose curfews in an attempt to end 11 days of riots, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says.

Speaking in a television interview, he called the violence "unacceptable" and outlined measures to curb the unrest that has hit 300 towns and cities.

He ruled out army intervention for the moment, but said an extra 1,500 police officers are to be deployed.

The ongoing chaos in France (and Germany, Belgium, and Denmark) is getting worse, and I fear that it won't get better any time soon. The violence has been blamed on everything from poverty and islamic militarism to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's tough stance on controlling the perpetrators:

The violence was sparked off a week ago when two teenage boys were electrocuted in an electricity sub-station, supposedly fleeing police, although authorities deny this. Nevertheless the French government has been widely criticized for its handling of the crisis. In particular comments made by the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, referring to the rioters as "scum," have unsurprisingly not done much to ease tensions. Critics also say his heavy-handed approach has done more to exacerbate than help the situation.
Some have even blamed the "hidden hands" of "unemployment, racial prejudice and widespread youth boredom":

It was just an excuse for kids to trash things," said Guendouz, 20, a French-born business student of Algerian origin.

"The politicians blame it on Islamists because the French are afraid of this religion. They think Islam equals bin Laden."

"Whoever knows who's behind this should come here and say it openly," shouted a defiant man in a Muslim prayer cap. "The problem is there's nothing for youths to do here."

Ahmed Hamidi, a white-bearded Moroccan electrician long resident in France, had no patience with politicians in Paris, which lies hardly an hour away but seems like another planet.

"All the politicians care about are laws for homosexuals and all those immoral things," he fumed. "They are against headscarves, against beards and against the mosques.

Despite claims otherwise, few in the European or American media are ready to suggest radical Islam as an underlying cause of, and unifying factor in, the Parisian riots. But is there a connection between the War on Terror, Islamofascism and the current riots in Europe? According to Captain Ed there is:

The riots in France have little connection to the Islamist terrorist offensive against the West, if the American media coverage gives any indication. However, alert CQ reader Mr. Michael points out that both American and French media sources warned of coordinated Islamist action against France in the weeks before the riot. Agence France Presse even had a quote from the maligned Nicolas Sarkozy noting the imminent nature of the threat in its 9/27 dispatch.
Whether or not there is any direct co-ordination between Islamofascists in the Middle East and the riots, it is probably not a stretch to say that the North African immigrants in France feel more loyalty to their muslim brothers than to their host nation. In fact, some in France recognized and sought to deal with just this problem in the past:

While it was soon realised that repatriation of this sort could not be the answer, France's media insisted that there was still a problem and instead began to discuss the "integration" of the country's Arab and Muslim population into the wider society. Television, in particular, began to look around for indicators of French Muslim feeling, and it latched onto a series of spokesmen for what was beginning to be dubbed the country's "Muslim community." By the beginning of the 1980s, and following the victory of the socialist Fran├žois Mitterand in the French presidential elections, media attention had begun to turn away from the problem of the integration of the older generation of immigrants into French society and towards that of the second and third generations, the sons and daughters of the originals.

These young people, dubbed "beurs" in French slang and born and educated in France, were, the media believed, "torn between two cultures," and there were questions about whether they were "really French," or whether their loyalties lay elsewhere, usually in the countries of the Arab Maghreb. Indeed, issues of where the "loyalty" of France's Muslim population really lay, of the compatibility of their views with the wider French culture, and of the alleged connections between members of this population and sometimes violent events abroad, became the leitmotifs of media representation of French Muslims in the second and third periods Deltombe describes and thus well into the last decade and beyond.

See also here: ("I do not feel totally French - quite simply because some people remind me this is not so at the slightest opportunity.") as a counter to the claim above that the French media exagerrates the divided loyalty of the muslims there.

The results of the French "intergration" model are less than mixed. Instead, the immigrant muslim community has been left to fester amidst the general economic malaise that plagues a significant plurality of all young adults in France. This fact was of little consequence prior to 9/11 because the general unrest was unfocused and unconnected to world events. Since 9/11, however, battle lines have been drawn and sides have been chosen (mostly). Suddenly the dissatisfied and disaffected muslim immigrants in France (and elsewhere in Europe), already divided in loyalty and unhappy with the treatment they receive at the behest of their host Western government, were able to draw parallels between their perceived plight and that of the militant anti-western Islamists elsewhere in the world. What was once just a local police and social policy problem became part of larger struggle against the West. Just as water will penetrate your home at the weakest, most accomodating points in the foundation first, an invading culture will find its greatest purchase where the weakest and most ineffectual resistance is found.

My view, and my deepest fear at this point, is that the spreading riots will play out like the 1848 Revolutions (being international in effect), except that instead of nationalism being a catalyst, it will be cultural identity. Where France in 1848 saw the middle class revolt against re-entrenchment of aristocratic control and violently react to perceived threats against their civil liberties, Paris today is witnessing a marginalized underclass of unassimilated immigrants seeking to supplant the currently entrenched culture with their own, and pushing back against perceived threats to their culture from Western liberalism. Make no mistake about it; the muslims do not want to assimilate or become more French. They hate the West and its dominant power. What they want is to transplant Middle Eastern muslim culture, wholly intact and intractable, into the West.

To be sure, France's current policy of simply pretending that all immigrants are assimilated as soon as they reach French shores is an abysmal failure, and laws such as that banning head scarves are an affront to all freedom-loving peoples. But how much do the muslims want to assimilate? How compatible is French culture with that of her former colonies? I'd venture not much.

Ignoring the problem by inventing "hidden hands" causes for the unrest and pretending that the muslim immigrants will become French if they are assumed to be so is the worst means of addressing the problem. A threat to one's culture, country, government or very existence can never be satisfactorily addressed if one pretends that threat is something else entirely. Blaming poverty, bored youths and "hidden hands" may sound nice, but it does not advance the ball. Instead, the failure to recognize the role that radical Islam is playing in riots will serve to exacerbate the situation and fan the flames of revolt. Before long, the country will have more on its hands than it can handle.

The French government's detachment from the country's burgeoning and increasingly restless immigrant population reminds me of another French ruler: Louis XVI. The title of this post (which translates to "Nothing") is the sole entry in the King's diary on July 14, 1789 ... the day that the Bastille was stormed and the Revolution became a full blown movement to structurally change France's very existence. Continuing down this well-travelled road of ignorance and wilfull blindness will surely lead the Fifth Republic to the same fate as Louis XVI.


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