Monday, November 07, 2005

Needed: honesty and seriousness

There is some debate over whether the Paris riots are in fact an Islamist intifada-style phenomenon or rather a result of the failure of the French state to integrate its significant immigrant minorities. While the Islamist angle should not be ignored (via Instapundit), Greg Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch makes a solid and nuanced argument for the latter:
The violence the roving gangs of youth are engaging in is borne of various causes and grievances. This profound alienation needs to be analyzed, to be sure. And at the end of the day, while there is some room for jihadist radicals to play on these sentiments to lure more towards piety, the book and perhaps terror--what this is really about is not some religiosity-infused intifada on the Seine but bread and butter issues of jobs and racism. Sarkozy is right that so called positive discrimination (affirmative action), at least in calibrated fashion, needs to be experimented with. But he is also at least equally right that criminals, even young ones just 18, must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Stoking mayhem cannot be rewarded. Such 'chantage'-like tactics should not be in the cards. And yet, there is reason for some of the fury, and I'd hazard most of it stems from unemployment in the 30% zone among many in their early 20s. This is likely the largest variable that must be addressed head-on, but also, let us be honest here, the feelings of 'otherness' that stem from largely North African communities believing they are viewed by many as, more or less, barbarians at the gates--too near the prim and proper bourgeois districts of the fabled capital.
Meanwhile Steven Plaut has an amusing, tongue-in-cheek proposal (via Transterrestrial Musings):
Well, now that the French are experiencing their own intifada, we suggest that they resolve the problem using the very same plan that they have been trying for decades to impose upon Israel. Yes, comrades, it is time to implement the Land for Peace Plan, Paris style. Here it is:
The French Solution: Land for Peace
So after leading the Solidarity-with-the-Baathists movement in Europe during the recent Gulf War, France is now enjoying its own intifada by urban Moslem resistance fighters, in suburban Paris! Of course, this is all on TOP of France's long history of supporting Islamist fascism and Palestinian terrorism.
Though I think French foreign policy is not the key aspect in understanding the current riots he does make several valid (and funny) points. At any rate Greg Djerejian concludes his excellent piece by explaining what the way forward should be:
The government must muster up unity and resolve and, yes, signal compassion too. The message must be that such criminal behavior is beyond the pale, and will be strictly prosecuted--but also that the political class takes some responsibility for its manifest weakness in, for far too long, simply wishing, somehow, that the problems of the banlieu would just go away. Yes, it's beyond time to face some hard realities. No more beating up on the lame Anglo-Saxon 'model' then, or cowboy brutes in Mesopotamia killing innocents, and so on. It's time to shine a strong light right there at home, put aside the defensive, diversionary pseudo-narratives and deceptions, and get to the hard work of putting the nation on a better course (particularly the dismal employment picture). If not, openings to more radical avenues will likely result--whether of a rightist or leftist variety (more likely the former, I'd say). Oh, and I suspect talk of racial inequalities being so atrociously bad in the U.S., not an insignificant talking point in Parisian salons around the time of Katrina, perhaps such talk will abate a tad given recent events.
Let's hope the French government pulls its act together.

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