Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Crooked Timber on the French riots - here is Daniel Davies:

The prevailing opinion appears to be that the problem with the young French North Africans rioting in towns like Clichy-sur-Bois [1] is that "they have not integrated into French society", or possibly that "French society has not been able to integrate them", depending on which cote of the rue you're looking from.

What utter rot. These young men have got a political grievance, and they're expressing it by setting fire to things and smashing them up. What could be more stereotypically, characteristically French than that? Presumably they're setting fire to cars because they don't have any sheep and the nearest McDonalds is miles away. "French society is threatened by anarchy and lawlessness". I mean really. Everyone would do well to remember that this is France we're talking about, not Sweden or perhaps Canada.

In forthcoming weeks, I shall be applying similar analytical techniques to topics like "root and branch corruption is threatening the essence of Italian democracy" and "Muslim immigrants cannot fit into British society because they are insular, bigoted and sexually repressed".

And here is Belle Waring:

why don’t I have anything to say about the rioting in France? Well, I sort of don’t understand what the hell is going on. I’m reluctant to embrace the Victor Steyn Hinderaker death-throes of Eurabia thing, since it looks more like your run-of-the-mill broke people rioting, combined with massive state incompetence. The cheerful schadenfreude on this issue from the right is unseemly. “Remember when they mocked our social system because something terrible happened to us? Now something terrible is happening to France! I bet they wish they could go cry on the shoulder of their old friend—Saddam Hussein!” I am surprised to learn that les flics are crippled by their mushy multicultural love all all things Islam; the blogosphere really can turn you on to new ideas. Obviously, though, the French government has screwed this up royally; it’s ludicrous that it would go on this long, and that it would take Chirac more than a week to even deign to notice the situation. Some forceful police action is obviously needed; it’s not right for citizens to be cowering in their homes while every car in France is set on fire right outside. (And, damn, those things are more flammable than I ever thought. Suddenly all those 80’s TV scenes where a car going 12 mph noses into a fence and blazes up like a Pinto inferno seem realistic.) Finally, and I mean this in the nicest way, and I don’t want people to die, but doesn’t this seem like some kind of pussy rioting, frankly? It’s been going on for almost two weeks and only one or two people have died?

The latter post was followed by an update:

it isn’t very helpful or accurate to call this rioting “run-of-the-mill” when it’s so obviously serious and strange in a possibly epochal way. So, retract that. What I meant to say is that from what I have seen, ordinary underclass alienation, reaction to percieved racism, massive unempolyment among bored young men, cack-handed government responses, etc. seem to be playing the largest role, vs. the “let’s reduce impotent France to dhimmi status and take over the world with the evil powers of Islam” fantasizing one sees at many right blogs.

Apparently, this last quote was written based on the theory that replacing "run of the mill" by "ordinary" makes a large difference.

You've got to be pretty fucked up to have these sorts of reactions.

Davies tells us that French activists dismantled a half-built McDonalds, therefore violence is French! It seems that French society is very easy to assimilate into indeed; all that is required is to burn some cars and kill some people and you will be very French indeed.

As for Waring, if she really "[doesn't] understand what the hell is going on," she would do better to refrain from commenting about things she does not understand. The "cheerful schadenfreude" coming from the right is not at all schadenfreude; liberals have repeatedly pointed to Europe as a social model worth emulating, and of course these events expose the weaknesses of such a model, which many people have pointed out. Waring also seems to be unaware that there are more people in the French government than Chirac. As for the role of Islamic extremism vs. underclass alienation, its clear that these are not distinct phenomena, but that they aid and reinforce each other.


At 9:39 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Very sensible post, Alex.

I don't know if you've seen this Theodore Dalrymple article from City Journal Autumn 2002, but you might find it interesting:


Sorry, I've completely forgotten how to link to articles in the comments section. Old age, I guess.

At 5:28 AM, Blogger alex said...

Thanks, Kate Marie. I usually agree with what Dalrymple writes (as I do in this case).

I tend not to be a big fan of the man, though. It seems to me he often takes his own feelings as projects them on others, and then offers the result as explanation.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger angela said...

daniel davies post was really funny and you need to cultivate your sense of humour. you hate belle.

"liberals have repeatedly pointed to Europe as a social model worth emulating, and of course these events expose the weaknesses of such a model,"

thats stupid, alex. are they rioting in every european country whose social model is worth emulating? no.

be good.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger alex said...

" daniel davies post was really funny and you need to cultivate your sense of humour."

he was also making a point - albeit semiseriously - and the point happened to be stupid. violence plays a part in many cultures, including french.

"are they rioting in every european country whose social model is worth emulating? no. "

on the other hand, not all european countries are socially heterogenous , so that the experience of france is better comparable to the american experience than that of sweden, finland, norway, etc

nor do they need to riot in every single country to undermine the point. to show that something is a bad idea, it isnt always necessary to show its wrong 100% of the time; being wrong a significant percentage of the time is often sufficient.


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