The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris
They are certainly not poor, at least by the standards of all previously existing societies: they are not hungry; they have cell phones, cars, and many other appurtenances of modernity; they are dressed fashionably—according to their own fashion—with a uniform disdain of bourgeois propriety and with gold chains round their necks. They believe they have rights, and they know they will receive medical treatment, however they behave. They enjoy a far higher standard of living (or consumption) than they would in the countries of their parents’ or grandparents’ origin, even if they labored there 14 hours a day to the maximum of their capacity.
But this is not a cause of gratitude—on the contrary: they feel it as an insult or a wound, even as they take it for granted as their due. But like all human beings, they want the respect and approval of others, even—or rather especially—of the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity. Emasculating dependence is never a happy state, and no dependence is more absolute, more total, than that of most of the inhabitants of the cités. They therefore come to believe in the malevolence of those who maintain them in their limbo: and they want to keep alive the belief in this perfect malevolence, for it gives meaning—the only possible meaning—to their stunted lives. It is better to be opposed by an enemy than to be adrift in meaninglessness, for the simulacrum of an enemy lends purpose to actions whose nihilism would otherwise be self-evident.
The Belmont Club makes an excellent observation on the significance of the carbeque brinksmanship of the “youths”:
Using expensive rotary wing assets to chase car arsonists isn’t an economical proposition, especially when you can’t fire on the arsonists. The ability to torch cars in the Place de la Republique is a good gauge of the limits of police response time. All in all, the tactic of car burning provides definite advantages to the attacker and many disadvantages for the defender. The tactics of the “youths” may have evolved spontaneously, and probably did. Nevertheless, because form follows function, they bear an eerie resemblance to tactics employed by the Chechens against the Russian Army in Grozny, and may have been fertilized by ideas from that source.
What’s happening in France is more serious than the LA riot or Katrina looting. It’s lasted longer and is more widespread. The LA mayhem wasn’t organized, and the government had the good sense to put it down with curfews and the National Guard before it spread to other cities. The Katrina looting, triggered by a natural disaster, is hardly comparable except for the curious lack of similar hyperbolic reportage. Did the media learn a lesson, or are they just casting around for an angle that doesn’t discredit their beloved moral relativism and multiculturalism?
Intifada in France
New York Sun Editorial
November 4, 2005
Back in the 1990s, the French sneered at America for the Los Angeles riots. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 1992: “the consensus of French pundits is that something on the scale of the Los Angeles riots could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs.” President Mitterrand, the Washington Post reported in 1992, blamed the riots on the “conservative society” that Presidents Reagan and Bush had created and said France is different because it “is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world.”
It sure smells like an “intifada”, it’s definitely more than a “riot”. Will the French not impose a curfew and mobilize their army simply because that’s what the cowboy Americans would do? Or are they afraid they wouldn’t win if it came to that? Do they remember what happened when they dithered in 1940?
Wake up, Europe, you’ve a war on your hands
November 6, 2005
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
The notion that Texas neocon arrogance was responsible for frosting up trans-Atlantic relations was always preposterous, even for someone as complacent and blinkered as John Kerry. If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans? For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America’s Europhiles, France’s Arab street correctly identified Chirac’s opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.
You might think this would also help dispell the belief that neocon arrogance caused 9/11, but the people who believe that are too busy dissecting Plame minutiae and lionizing their heroic marxist agitators in Argentina to notice anything that contradicts their worldview.
TV coverage has been thin. After two weeks don’t French city streets in flames rate some air time? Compare it for instance to the coverage of the LA riot or Katrina. What happened to “if it bleeds it leads”? We beat ourselves and our government up pretty badly over Katrina. They say Europe is more enlightened, France enjoys more solidarity. Wouldn’t it be instructive to examine their problems and compare them to ours? Wouldn’t it be fair to critique their government’s response to crisis?
Thankfully blogs have been a vibrant source of information, analysis, and opinion.
The better ones on this subject are The Belmont Club, ¡No Pasaràn!, Gates of Vienna, cuanas, and The Brussels Journal. The mainstream media is guilty not only of dragging their feet on the story, the links above reveal they’ve been neglecting for some time to report honestly on the problems of socialist Europe. They consistenty portray it as utopia compared to the US. From the 25% unemployment rate to the ticking time bomb of ingrateful, unassimilated, and surly Muslims I’m damn glad I don’t live in France.