Friday, November 04, 2005



The rioting continues tonight in France.

No Pasaran observes from France that "Talk radio and web forums are coming down squarely in favor of Interior Minister Sarkozy with calls for a heavy hand when dealing with rioters." This jibes with other observations I've heard and read over the years since Sept. 11. The French elite and the media and a certain vocal segment of the population thrive on being anti-American. But don't make the mistake of thinking all French are like that. Paris is not France. In the military, and especially in the countryside, we have many friends still, and it has nothing to do with gratitude for D-Day.

Meanwhile, a familiar face is seeking a "dialogue" with the rioters.

This from the AP story:

Minister of Social Cohesion Jean-Louis Borloo said the government had to react "firmly" but added that France must also acknowledge its failure to have dealt with anger simmering in poor suburbs for decades.

Minister of Social Cohesion? Is that, like, Rush Chairman at Phi Delt?

Captain Ed notes that even the Nazis didn't have the heart to burn Paris. [The title of this post I got from him as well.]

And it's not just France, though Paris dominates the headlines. Many Internet types are following the events via Brussles Journal; I'm one of them. It's got the goods.

One of the more chilling perspectives on the riots is here. Dalrymple sees a convergence of two storms: the first is an indifference to law enforcement that grew in a Western Europe that, for decades, was comfortably middle class and relatively crime free.

The laxisme of the French criminal justice system is now notorious. Judges often make remarks indicating their sympathy for the criminals they are trying (based upon the usual generalizations about how society, not the criminal, is to blame); and the day before I witnessed the scene on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, 8,000 police had marched to protest the release from prison on bail of an infamous career armed robber and suspected murderer before his trial for yet another armed robbery, in the course of which he shot someone in the head. Out on bail before this trial, he then burgled a house. Surprised by the police, he and his accomplices shot two of them dead and seriously wounded a third. He was also under strong suspicion of having committed a quadruple murder a few days previously, in which a couple who owned a restaurant, and two of their employees, were shot dead in front of the owners’ nine-year-old daughter.

The other is the familiar nexus of poverty, unemployment, alienation, and concrete jungle housing projects that proved so deadly for American cities in the 1960s.

A kind of anti-society has grown up in them—a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, “official,” society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust—greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years—is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.

But the gasoline, and the match, on this volatile mix is extremist Islam. Cue Francis Fukuyama:

Contemporary Europeans downplay national identity in favor of an open, tolerant, "post-national" Europeanness. But the Dutch, Germans, French and others all retain a strong sense of their national identity, and, to differing degrees, it is one that is not accessible to people coming from Turkey, Morocco or Pakistan. Integration is further inhibited by the fact that rigid European labor laws have made low-skill jobs hard to find for recent immigrants or their children. A significant proportion of immigrants are on welfare, meaning that they do not have the dignity of contributing through their labor to the surrounding society. They and their children understand themselves as outsiders.

It is in this context that someone like Osama bin Laden appears, offering young converts a universalistic, pure version of Islam that has been stripped of its local saints, customs and traditions. Radical Islamism tells them exactly who they are--respected members of a global Muslim umma to which they can belong despite their lives in lands of unbelief. Religion is no longer supported, as in a true Muslim society, through conformity to a host of external social customs and observances; rather it is more a question of inward belief. Hence Mr. Roy's comparison of modern Islamism to the Protestant Reformation, which similarly turned religion inward and stripped it of its external rituals and social supports.