Saturday, November 05, 2005

Vive la France?

What is going on in France? It's just horrifying and incredibly sad. During the week of Eid too.

MSNBC: Urban unrest continues
BBC: Nicholas Sarkozy warns of tough action on rioters.

Of course, what to make of it all depends on one's ideology. Michelle Malkin has a helpful roundup of conservative bloggers going nuts. From some, the hatefulness is amazing. There is almost a sense of glee, of schadenfreude, of "see, this is what you get for appeasing those bastards."

I've not been able to find any similar round up from the left. But I haven't dug too deep. Here's Bartholomew's Notes on Religion, Paris Riots sets US demagogues alight. One Salient Oversight ("The pontifications of an evangelical polymath cassandra." I love it!) has an interesting comparison with the LA riots of 1992. Time has a backgrounder, written on the third day of the riots (well, I guess MSM is kinda Leftish. Which makes me kinda rightish, I guess, for having that perspective!). And this blog over at ("progressive, feminist, empowered") agonizes that the rioters are just giving "them" (i.e. right-wing fanatics) the ammunition they need.

As I see it (and no, I'm no savvy analyst), these are the two ends of the spectrum: one that would blame the French, for ghettoization and marginalization, for unemployment and oppression, which lead to this outburts. Solution? Be fair and just. The other would blame Islam, and too much Muslim immigration. Solution? Crack down. Expel. Close borders.

Ok, those are probably caricatures. But a good rhetorical device, so that I can show that my take isn't extremist, quite reasonable, and better than others.

Actually, I don't know that I have a take really. I'm sympathetic to both perspectives. At least, to the latter, in as much as it is a talk about European identity (rather than anti-Muslim screeds. And yes, I do think one needs to be serious about radical Muslim clerics in Europe. But not anti-Muslim.). Francis Fukuyama, writing in the WSJ, has an interesting piece on European identity and "jihadist terrorism." This was written prior to the riots. "A year of living dangerously: remember Theo van Gogh, and shudder for the future." I agree, overall. I do think the question of identity is important here. I'm sympathetic to George Weigel's take as articulated in this interview on his new book (I haven't yet read "The Cube and the Cathedral"). This develops ideas he put in a First Things essay in Feb. 2004. And from what I can gather, this is also the subject of Pope Benedict's book on Europe, "The Europe of Benedict: In the Crisis of Cultures."

Guess that makes me more rightish.

In anycase, we can all pray that the insanity ends soon!


assiniboine said...

Not only "conservative" commentators (and don't you hate it that that word, and "liberal" too, are becoming terms of disparagement?); many Muslims who have migrated to the West because they like it better are saying to the bigots, "Get off my side!" But it's not that hard to conceive of pragmatic safeguards against western countries inadvertently harbouring vipers in their bosom. Would-be immigrants are routinely quizzed as to their fluency in the prevailing language and their understanding of and subscription to the constitutional and statutory shibboleths of the host country; subtly weeding out the sedition-minded is neither a big ask nor a gross infringement of civil liberties. And there are indeed plenty of Muslims in western countries who identify not in the slightest with their kookier co-religionists: why did you come here? if you don't like it, you can always go back where you came from. Of course, the Paris rioters, like the London bombers, were native-born French and Britons, respectively, so what of them?

Well, the recently enthroned Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean (a female black francophone immigrant) has joined the outspokenly anti-multicultural Neil Bissoondath -- it has to be persons of colour, as they say, who voice such sentiments -- in challenging the now-conventional wisdom that western countries should be mini-United Nations: time to take a sober second look, she suggests, and think about whether it's such a great idea to ghetto-ise immigrant communities and thereby, perhaps, encourage their alienation. I presume she would be rather tickled at the response I received from the parents of an Indian friend who brought his parents over to Australia for a visit -- their first foray outside India other than to go to Mecca for the Hajj -- when I queried them as to their utter delight in what they found here: what was it they especially liked about Australia? The beer is fantastic, mate!

c.owen said...


Note how these riots have been planned using cell phones. Technology has happily relaxed one of the old limitations on angry mobs: physical location. Imagine, Newark 1967 with cell phones.

A riot, after all, is just the inversion of discovering a great party on campus. No wonder the French police are powerless. They're fighting rave culture.

Which is why we can't have all these foolish, addled old ideologues running our Western democracies.