Uprising in France

As I write this, rioting in France has spread beyond Paris and may yet cause widespread and lasting damage. I’ve seen the projects around Nancy, France’s third largest city, and I can tell you that they have the same hopeless, dehumanizing character, which I will (perhaps unfairly) describe as a social landfill, as the Parisian projects where this began. In pundit circles these are fat times for people selling an eternal struggle between the enlightened West and Islamic darkness, a la LGF. That line seems to have some takers among the French themselves, or at least the not-very-popular French president Prime Minister Villepin, but I’d argue that taking that attitude is not just wrong but dangerously wrong. Let’s go back to Tim F’s First Law:

In the context of a debate, calling another’s motivations ‘evil’ should be considered synonymous with, ‘I don’t understand and am too lazy to find out.’

Going by my law, people like Villepin who use simplistic pejoratives to describe their antagonists fail to understand them and, by failing to understand them, practically guarantee that they’ll lose. If a substantial minority of the French population decides that society and its laws offer them no hope of addressing their grievances, they will look elsewhere for a solution. That’s how short-term riots can descend into a neverending guerilla war, an Algeria fought within France itself.

The key, in my view, is that these riots are happening not because the rioters are muslim, but because they’re French.

Been there

Try this: ask a French citizen what makes them proudest about the French. Odds are you’ll hear about the citizens’ willingness to stand up to tyranny. The Marseillaise, like our own anthem, celebrates citizens arming themselves in the name of freedom and democracy. Some might say they internalized the message a bit too far; good luck visiting Paris without running into a strike by the municipal street sweepers, or the baggage handlers or the taxi drivers or the guys who deliver fresh dough for baguettes.

Let’s go back to the famous student strike of 1968.

In May 1968 a general insurrection broke out across France. It quickly began to reach near-revolutionary proportions before being discouraged by the French Communist Party, and finally suppressed by the government who accused the Communists of plotting against the Republic. Some philosophers and historians have argued that the rebellion was the single most important revolutionary event of the 20th century because it wasn’t participated in by a lone demographic, such as workers or racial minorities, but was rather a purely popular uprising, superseding ethnic, cultural, age and class boundaries

It began as a series of student strikes that broke out at a number of universities and high schools in Paris, following confrontations with university administrators and the police. The de Gaulle administration’s attempts to quash those strikes by further police action only inflamed the situation further, leading to street battles with the police in the Latin Quarter, followed by a general strike by students and strikes throughout France by ten million French workers, roughly two-thirds of the French workforce. The protests reached the point that De Gaulle created a military operations headquarters to deal with the unrest, dissolved the National Assembly and called for new parliamentary elections for 23 June 1968.

Violent? Yep. The strikes precipitated one of the more telling anecdotes from modern France (here, via here):

By late summer de Gaulle had found a way to disarm the next leftist uprising. As far back as the year 1185, the cobblestone pavement in the Latin Quarter had proved an effective weapon –at that time against royalists. In 1830 cobblestones were used again, and again in the re- volution of 1848, and then by the [Paris] Commune in 1871 when they first sang ‘The Internationale.’ The students who hurled them in 1968 had learned their history. One of the…posters of 1968 showed a paving stone and was captioned ‘UNDER 21 YEARS OLD, HERE IS YOUR BALLOT.’

But this was to happen no more. In August de Gaulle ordered the cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter paved over in asphalt.

The strikes were so effective that later, in the mid-1990s, students merely had to suggest that they might strike again before the government capitulated to their demands for smaller class sizes and higher teacher pay.

French?

Pay attention to this part, because it affects us. I said in another thread that I wouldn’t speculate on the “root motivations” behind the September 11 terrorists, but that’s only part true. I won’t claim to know for sure, but in passing on one of the more compelling explanations that I’ve heard I want to illustrate what’s happening in France, and the hard steps that Europe has to take to resolve it.

Briefly, the 9/11 hijackers fell into two basic categories. Hired muscle, who came largely from the middle east directly, and the brains/coordinators. The second group consisted of western-educated and culturally literate natives of Saudi Arabia and other arab states who had spent considerable time in Belgium and other European countries before coming to America for the purposes of the attack. Atta did not arrive in Belgium embittered and radical. In fact his relatively well-off family sent him west with the idea of enriching his hometown with the cultural and business savvy that he would learn ‘over there.’ Yet somehow by the time he left Atta was ready to do inhuman things to other people whom he no longer even saw as people. Why? A second question would be, why haven’t any anti-American Islamic terrorists originated in America?

Radicalized Islam infests western Europe. There’s your immediate cause, but why is that? Muslims have just as much freedom-of-speech here as there, if not more. We have weaker government surveillance than most of Europe, or at least we did before 2001. The key difference is cultural. When you arrive in America, you’re an American practically before the ink on your visa is dry. There’s no such thing as an ethnic ‘American.’ In Europe people have a deep sense of ethnicity; they can tell where you’re from by every detail of your appearance, and your manner of speech indicates your social class. Here nobody cares who your parents are or what they did, while that is far from true in Europe. These are not necessarily better or worse things, merely different, but they have an enormous impact on the immigrant experience.

In Belgium Mohammed Atta found that no matter how much culture he absorbed he would always be defined, fundamentally, by his ethnicity. Arabs born in western Europe often found the same thing. Offended by what they perceived as second-class treatment, the psychological door opened just wide enough for the radical imams to make their easy answers, their good-and-evil hate rhetoric, a convincing sell.

This gets back to the French rioters. These are not the new immigrants, who came to France in the 60’s, the 70’s and the 80’s largely glad for the opportunity to leave misery at home and work for second-class wages. If I haven’t convinced you already, that attitude is far from French. These are the children of the immigrants [Update – link], French citizens, who still feel as though their country considers them ‘alien,’ who rightly or wrongly claim that their address and their last name anchor them to the lowest levels of employment

France can always listen to its President Prime Minister and demonize the protestors. Louis XVI tried that. I’d recommend that France look instead to leaders like Charles de Gaulle, who faced similar revolutionary threats and resolved them without losing his head.

***Update***

Governmental dyslexia repaired.

***Update 2***

A superb analysis by someone who’s there. If kos diaries burn your eyeballs, tough.

these events are not motivated by religion, they are motivated by economics

Seriously, go read.

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65 replies
  1. 1

    There is a cluelessness in the upper circles when these social upheavals occur. A wise leader would address the class and economic problems before religious zealotry becomes the only solution for the rioters.

    But they’re dumb racist fucks over there too.

  2. 2
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Have Islamic fundamentalists staged a mass revolt in a western democracy?

    Does kind of ratchets things up a bit.

  3. 3
    Ross says:

    Tim F, do you have any backup for the assertion that

    These are not the new immigrants

    I’ll take your word for it, however, you know, trust but verify. Overall, this seems like some great analysis.

  4. 4
    Tim F. says:

    Tim F, do you have any backup for the assertion that

    These are not the new immigrants

    Radio, and conversations with French family. I might update if I find a good link somewhere (or if somebody links to it in the comments, hint hint).

  5. 5
    Kimmitt says:

    Villepin’s the PM, not the President. ;)

  6. 6
    nyrev says:

    Here are a few links.

    This article seems to suggest that these are 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants. The youths in the rioting neighborhoods are described as “French born” in this article and this one.

  7. 7
    demimondian says:

    I find a good link somewhere (or if somebody links to it in the comments, hint hint).

    Here’s one (from the NY Times, via the BBC)…at the end

  8. 8
    rilkefan says:

    One thing about French culture is the draw of the dramatic. So far what I’ve seen is consistent with a combination of standard dissaffection and media attention. The kids burning cars in the banlieues and arrondisments will get bored and France will get back to abstract debates and strikes and the price of wine.

  9. 9

    […] From Balloon Juice’s new poster, Tim F.: Briefly, the 9/11 hijackers fell into two basic categories. Hired muscle, who came largely from the middle east directly, and the brains/coordinators. The second group consisted of western-educated and culturally literate natives of Saudi Arabia and other arab states who had spent considerable time in Belgium and other European countries before coming to America for the purposes of the attack. Atta did not arrive in Belgium embittered and radical. In fact his relatively well-off family sent him west with the idea of enriching his hometown with the cultural and business savvy that he would learn ‘over there.’ Yet somehow by the time he left Atta was ready to do inhuman things to other people whom he no longer even saw as people. Why? A second question would be, why haven’t any anti-American Islamic terrorists originated in America? […]

  10. 10
    Darrell says:

    The French have coddled and made excuses for their muslim underclass for too long, while at the same time treating them like 2nd class citizens. What gets me here is the French appeasement of these thugs, Villepin is calling for more ‘dialogue’ with the rioting criminals. France is partially to blame for their muslim underclass, but that in no way excuses the rioting and destruction. The French police should be aggresively restoring order and making arrests, but instead we see banners of “Dialogue, not violence” which will no doubt be followed with hand-holding chanting of Kumbayah

    Zee fight is too difficult. We must give them whatever they want. No cowboy police actions. Pffft

  11. 11
    Darrell says:

    There’s no such thing as an ethnic ‘American.’ In Europe people have a deep sense of ethnicity; they can tell where you’re from by every detail of your appearance, and your manner of speech indicates your social class. Here nobody cares who your parents are or what they did, while that is far from true in Europe.

    Tim nails it. Europeans are far more concerned with social class and status.. who your family is, where you went to school, etc. Business cards of European business and technical professionals, even if they’ve graduated university 30+ years ago, still list undergrad and graduate degrees, any university honors (from decades prior!), and a list of their professional affiliations. The Euros are obsessed with that kind of thing, which makes it difficult for the ‘unwashed’ immigrants to be accepted and assimilated

  12. 12
    scs says:

    In the context of a debate, calling another’s motivations ‘evil’ should be considered synonymous with, ‘I don’t understand and am too lazy to find out.’

    About your law, I don’t know if I agree. When thinking about evil, I’ve decided evil is selfishness to a high degree. Sometimes people just want things and will take them. It’s as simple as that. Why? Because they think they can. And they will not consider other people in the process. It happens all the time, from the schoolyard bully, to the wife abuser, to a serial killer, to a muderous dictator.

    I suppose if you REALLY want to understand the motivations for their actions, you have to go back to genetics, because of some hard wiring problems in their brains, some people are born without sympathy or a developed sense of fairness. In fact studies on grade school bullies did not find some sense of insecurity, depression, or disempowerment but instead high confidence and a sense of entitlement in these children. I wouldn’t be surprised if terrorists and some rioters, to a smaller degree, are the same. Never mind the French capitalist game, they feel they are ENTITLED to rule, be on top, and to do whatever it takes to get there.

    After all people have a choice when they are feeling wronged. They can protest peacefully, try to enact changes in the government, try to advance by hard work. They don’t have to burn innocent people’s cars or chop off innocent people’s heads. They have other choices and they don’t take them. That’s why some ascribe the word “evil” to terrorists.

  13. 13
    SoCalJustice says:

    As with most complex situations, the answers are complex. This is not happening just because of jihad, nor is it necessarily just a typical “race” riot.

    Radical mosques in Paris have been on the radar screen of their government for years.

    Here’s the NY Times from September, 2003:

    French Aide Warns Militant Mosques and Radical Muslims

    And here’s France backing up that threat in April, 2004:

    France Deports Algerian Imam, Shuts 2 Mosques

    And, from two months ago, one of Algeria’s Salafist leaders: France ‘enemy number one’

    Clearly France has a problem with integration of their Muslim community, and that lack of hope has fed frustration for a long time. But there is also, in this situation, a group of radical religious leaders fueling the fire. We can pretend that this hasn’t happened, and that France hasn’t been aware for the problem going back to at least 2003, but that’s called denial.

    It’s a combination of factors.

  14. 14
    scs says:

    In Europe people have a deep sense of ethnicity; they can tell where you’re from by every detail of your appearance

    Yes that is so true. My older cousin from Germany came to visit us last summer. He told us the story how in the 60’s, about, he couldn’t find a job where he went to college, in Cologne, because he grew up in Bavaria and had a Bavarian accent. He said it was even hard to advance because he didn’t grow up in the area.

    I was shocked and asked, “Well, it’s still not like today is it?” And he replied that is still was. To a smaller degree, and kept quiet, but still there. Can you imagine, the two areas are probably only a 3 hour drive from each other. And they call themselves liberal?

  15. 15
    aop says:

    About your law, I don’t know if I agree. When thinking about evil, I’ve decided evil is selfishness to a high degree.

    Selfishness to a high degree is extreme selfishness. Evil, in my opinion, is harm done for its own sake, which is exceedingly rare, outside the realm of true sociopaths. Unless you’re postulating that the rioters are sociopaths, Tim’s right that it’s lazy to call them “evil.”

  16. 16
    Stormy70 says:

    Actually, alot of those rioting do not recognize the government of France, only Muslim law. They want to rule themselves, and not participate in the ways of the West. France should try land for peace. I have no sympathy for the French Government.

  17. 17
    demimondian says:

    You know, SoCal, I don’t think I agree with you. There’s no evidence of organization behind the riots; they really do seem to be spontaneous. Remember, most French Muslims really don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Jihadists. This is something much larger.

    Does anybody beside me find the “Golly, it’s those damned jihadis” talking point a bit tired? I won’t deny the reality of Islamism, or, _pace_ Tim, its essentially evil nature. I just think that it’s no worse than, say, the worst forms of American Protestant Evangelicalism.

  18. 18
    scs says:

    Evil, in my opinion, is harm done for its own sake,

    Well everyone agreed Hitler is evil. And he wasn’t reported to particulary enjoy the killing or suffering of Jews, he just thought it necessary to achieve his overall goal of a “pure” fatherland. Which brings me back to my point. Evil is putting your interests or goals over all well-being or fairness for others.

  19. 19
    scs says:

    By the way, I have a theory that this sense of violent entitlement that seems common in the Arab world today is related to the coddling male children receive and the low status of women. My mother is Italian, and I see how spoiled my male cousins are, and even my brothers, to an extent. It was all over the culture. The men are gods and the women are there to please them. And that’s just Italy. I can just imagine how spolied the Arab men are.

  20. 20
    SoCalJustice says:

    here’s no evidence of organization behind the riots; they really do seem to be spontaneous

    Actually, there is.

    Police also found a gasoline bomb-making factory in a derelict building in Evry south of Paris, with more than 100 bottles ready to turned into bombs, another 50 already prepared, as well as fuel stocks and hoods for hiding rioters’ faces, senior Justice Ministry official Jean-Marie Huet told The Associated Press. Police arrested six people, all under 18.

    Also, if people don’t think that Islam has anything to do with the fact that this particular group of immigrants is having a harder time assimilating in France than others – well – they haven’t been paying attention.

    Newsweek from August, 2003:

    By Christopher Dickey and Marie Valla
    An unnamed 15-year-old girl is assaulted by 18 boys, most of them not much older than she is. Sonia, also 15, is raped by seven of her supposed friends in the basement of her apartment building. Sheherezade, 11, is beaten and raped repeatedly over the course of a year by 12 different boys

    Grim as such crimes may be, they’re becoming commonplace in the police ledgers of Paris, Lyons or Toulouse. The scene is almost always the same: the housing projects called cites on the outskirts of France’s major cities. Built by socially progressive governments in the 1960s, they’ve since been taken over by a generation of mostly Arab immigrants-impoverished, cut off from their native lands and culture, ghettoized. Here, young men try to rule their families and neighbours under a macho code drawn partly from Muslim tradition, partly from the violence and porn in the media. Women submit to men, they say. Good girls, good sisters, cover themselves and stay home. Otherwise they are putes, whores, who can be used and abused even if they say no.

    It’s not black and white. But it plays a role. And burning cars – and there have been more than 1000 torched so far – is not that easy. You can’t take a lit match or a lighter and stick it next to a tire or a car door and have the thing go up in flames – that fact alone speaks to a certain level of organization.

    We’re gonna have to agree to disagree.

  21. 21
    SoCalJustice says:

    Whoops – my bad.

    Obviously, I meant to quote demimondian on the supposed lack of organization of these riots.

    The French police say they are organized and have found a bomb factory with equipment ready to go.

    And I meant to put the Newsweek article in quotes – the last block is me, again.

    Sorry.

  22. 22
    SoCalJustice says:

    Does anybody beside me find the “Golly, it’s those damned jihadis” talking point a bit tired?

    Umm, didn’t I write that multiple factors were in play?

    Where did I write anything like “it’s those damned jihadis” – I said it was a combination of factors, one of which is the radicalism of this particular community.

    And I doubt the three Muslim girls from the Newsweek story feel that Protestant Evangelism and Islam are all that similar. And I’m not apologizing for Evangelicals – I think they’re pretty creepy. I’m just not aware of roving bands of teen evangelicals raping girls who don’t sufficiently cover themselves. Maybe they do, though.

  23. 23
    The Cavalry says:

    Actually, alot of those rioting do not recognize the government of France, only Muslim law.

    I have heard that too. It’s a very dangerous situation to be in, when one segment of the population puts allegiance to Allah ahead of the laws of the country. The French government should have cracked down on this a long time ago. I also have no sympathy for them.

  24. 24
    SoCalJustice says:

    Remember, most French Muslims really don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Jihadists. This is something much larger.

    And most French Muslims aren’t rioting.

    So what?

  25. 25
    demimondian says:

    The French police say they are organized and have found a bomb factory with equipment ready to go.

    Even if this is true, and the European press doesn’t seem to buy it, it doesn’t indicate anything that you would term organization. You do know what a “gasoline bomb factory” is, don’t you? A twenty litre container of motor fuel, fifty empty bottles and a dirty sheet. You can’t concentrate the manufacture of incendiaries unless you’re willing to risk having your “factory” burn down.

  26. 26
    Stormy70 says:

    The European press don’t buy anything. They are too busy covering for the radical Islamists, by finding excuses for their behavior. Why do they hate you, France?

  27. 27
    SoCalJustice says:

    demimondian

    Obviously there are many more of those “factories” that haven’t been found by French police, because well over 1,000 cars – and many buildings – have been torched. Some people are organizing, many people are joining in. Not everyone is coming to the “party” with their own molotov cocktails. That seems pretty clear.

    And “the European press”? That’s a pretty sweeping generalization.

  28. 28
    demimondian says:

    Hey, Stormy? Maybe you should take a break and come back when you’re sober. You’re making a fool of yourself.

  29. 29
    scs says:

    Hey Stormy tells it like it is. With a little humor and sarcasm of course.

  30. 30
    SoCalJustice says:

    Is the Independent (United Kingdom) part of the European Press?

    They quote a rioter – in his own words:

    But where before protesters demanded financial aid and change within the system, many of today’s rioters seem motivated more by a nihilistic rejection of all that surrounds them. “I hate France, and the French hate us,” said Abdelkarim. “The wicked get punished. See what happened after the Americans made war on Iraq? Allah sent the hurricane. We are getting our revenge.

    Why would he – or part of the “European Press” – talk of Allah and “getting” “revenge?”

    Again, I don’t think every rioter agrees with Abdelkarim. But I think some do – as I said in my original post, this is a complex situation with no simple answer. Absolutists on both the right and the left are missing the big picture.

  31. 31
    The Cavalry says:

    At the end of the day, the Muslims in Paris have to realize that the rule of law must prevail. Obviously, religious minorities deserve tolerance and respect, but France is not and cannot be a muslim country, no matter what the rioters do.

  32. 32
    demimondian says:

    Obviously there are many more of those “factories” that haven’t been found by French police, because well over 1,000 cars – and many buildings – have been torched.

    I don’t think you quite caught my point. The “bomb factory” was a one-man operation. Lots of one-man operations != organization; in fact, it’s evidence of a lack of organization. An organized effort would have places well outside of the area being attacked from which the front lines could be supplied. That’d be pretty easy in modern Europe. The presence of factories in France is evidence that no overarching organization has emerged.

    Yet.

  33. 33
    p.lukasiak says:

    When you arrive in America, you’re an American practically before the ink on your visa is dry. There’s no such thing as an ethnic ‘American.’ In Europe people have a deep sense of ethnicity;

    Tim, this is just ridiculous…whereas this..

    they can tell where you’re from by every detail of your appearance, and your manner of speech indicates your social class.

    makes some sense. But then you go back to the world of the nonsensical with….

    Here nobody cares who your parents are or what they did, while that is far from true in Europe.

    I could buy that the riots in France are really about class, and not about religion or ethnicity per se. But to argue this point by stating that there is no such thing as an “ethnic American”, and that “class doesn’t matter to Americans”, weakens you argument considerably.

  34. 34
    Stormy70 says:

    Hey, Stormy? Maybe you should take a break and come back when you’re sober. You’re making a fool of yourself.

    Even if it was true, the European press aren’t buying it. :)

    Not drinking this weekend, more’s the pity.

  35. 35
    demimondian says:

    Even if it was true, the European press aren’t buying it.

    No, they’re still trying to justify the rioters eating womb babies.

  36. 36
    SoCalJustice says:

    The “bomb factory” was a one-man operation.

    You know this how?

    The presence of factories in France is evidence that no overarching organization has emerged.

    O. K.

    Look – when people say “organized,” they don’t mean that the shots are being called from Mecca and this was planned years in advance. They mean that there is a leadership that has emerged – and was entrenched – in several locales – and they are handing out incendiary devices and spurring this on. It doesn’t mean that many people have not spontaneously joined up – of course they have.

    But talk to us about Abdelkarim, the rioter, quoted in the Independent.

    Is the fact that he beseeches Allah and thanks him for Katrina and getting revenge evidence that religion is playing no role here?

    Because that would be pretty consistent with the “factory” = no organization” logic.

  37. 37
    SoCalJustice says:

    Anyway – gotta go – Steeler game’s about to start.

    Have a great rest of your weekend, everyone…

  38. 38
    Tim F. says:

    Paul,

    America has a different sort of race and class consciousness. In many ways it is equally bad, but difference is nonetheless enormous with respect to the immigrant experience.

  39. 39
    scs says:

    When you arrive in America, you’re an American practically before the ink on your visa is dry

    (Finally figured out Italic!) I agree with what Tim said, if maybe not to the degree he said it. America is lucky because we have enough space and jobs to accomodate all kinds of people. Also, we have a more laid back atmosphere here. It’s okay here to be a redneck and proud, for instance, but never in Europe. It’s okay to live in a trailer, eat fast food, and shop at Wal-Mart here, cause lots of other people do it too. So class is somewhat less important for the bulk of the people. (Of course, class, which translates into ‘Ivy League’, still holds for all the very top jobs, as we just saw with Harriet Miers.)

  40. 40
    Jess says:

    When I was living in Antwerp (for two long, grim, rainy years) I saw a lot of the same tensions. After talking to a lot of people on both sides of the equation (immigrants from Muslim countries and locals) it was pretty clear that there was no way to say which side was wearing the white hats. BOTH sides were right in many of their perceptions and had legitimate and serious complaints, and both sides did rotten things to their opponents. What we’re seeing IMHO is a clash between two primarily monocultural groups with little tolerance for different values and a long history of hostile relations. It’s pretty much inevitable that both sides would turn to a more extreme and fundamentalist version of their cultural identities. In other words, I agree with Tim that fundamentalist Islam is not a cause here, but rather a symptom–just as the rise of fundamentalist Christianity in our own country is a reaction to the cultural transformations (some good, some bad) of the last four decades. Some sort of shift toward global multiculturalism is probably inevitable and ultimately positive, but it’s going to be a wild ride.

  41. 41
    aop says:

    Another difference between America and Europe is that America doesn’t have huge, primarily Muslim, ghettoes. The equivalent of the place in Paris where this started would be Watts in LA. Is this that different from the Watts, or Rodney King riots?

  42. 42
    Tim F. says:

    Is this that different from the Watts, or Rodney King riots?

    The Parisian to whom I linked in the update says that’s the best analogy.

  43. 43
    don surber says:

    D E N I A L
    “I’ve seen the projects around Nancy, France’s third largest city, and I can tell you that they have the same hopeless, dehumanizing character, which I will (perhaps unfairly) describe as a social landfill …”
    This is bilge. You are rationalizing lawlessness.
    BTW, are you saying spending on government housing is simply “social landfill”?
    Hmm

  44. 44
    aop says:

    This is bilge. You are rationalizing lawlessness.

    Is it bilge that he considers the projects to be hopeless and dehumanizing? Or is it bilge to infer that hopeless, shitty living conditions can contribute to social unrest? Not sure what’s so bilge-y about any of that.

    Are you suggesting that quality of life doesn’t play a role in fomenting stuff like this? Probably true–let’s see, there’s the Brentwood riots in 1991, the Grosse Pointe Uprising, the Upper East Side Massacre…

  45. 45
    goonie bird says:

    The citizens of england had better hope that PRINCE CHARLES never becomes king he would have them made into muselums as the first thing he dose just be glade were no longer a british collony

  46. 46
    The Cavalry says:

    Worst of all, the rioters have taken to calling French Fries “Allah Fries”.

  47. 47
    Mr.Ortiz says:

    I was about to thank John for getting this one right, since I’m so sick of right-wingers blaming islam for ghetto youth violence (who ever heard of such a thing?!), then I noticed it was Tim who wrote the post. Oh well, thanks Tim!

  48. 48
    p.lukasiak says:

    they can tell where you’re from by every detail of your appearance, and your manner of speech indicates your social class. Here nobody cares who your parents are or what they did, while that is far from true in Europe.

    as with everything else, the rich pay others to take care of their rioting. Why do you think we’re in Iraq?

  49. 49
    The Heretik says:

    Very impressive and informative. Cited in the roundup at The Inferno

  50. 50
    Kelly says:

    “I’ve seen the projects around Nancy, France’s third largest city…”

    I lived in Strasbourg as a teenager, and the claim that Nancy is the third largest city in France didn’t make sense. Sure enough, according to this link:

    http://www.citymayors.com/grat.....ities.html

    Nancy is 33rd. If you look at urban areas:

    http://www.citymayors.com/france/france_urban.html

    Nancy is 15th.

  51. 51
    scs says:

    Is it bilge that he considers the projects to be hopeless and dehumanizing? Or is it bilge to infer that hopeless, shitty living conditions can contribute to social unrest?

    Are the conditions really that bad? I read (maybe in NYT) that in projects in France, education is nationalized, so each school gets equal amount, free healthcare, free college, generous unemployment, even subsidies if you are employed, and I read that the projects don’t look THAT bad there, compared to here, they have nice little lawns and flowers, etc.. So what is the problem? I saw some show on TV recently, that showed N. Africa, and people just rushing fences, trying to get into European territory. They were interviewed and said, “We have nothing here. We might as well kill ourselves.” Compared to probably most of the world’s population, they are doing pretty well there in France. So I don’t think it fair to blame it on just poor conditions. It’s probably something more like resentment about the way the rest of France lives.

  52. 52
    rilkefan says:

    I pooh-poohed the whole thing above, but the ten-police-officers-wounded-by-shotgun-fire report takes this to a different level in my perception – I now realize this is an important story.

  53. 53
    aop says:

    Are the conditions really that bad?

    Dunno. Tim’s link compared it to Watts–ever been there? Not very nice. I’m sure, as you say, it’s not as bad as some places in Africa, although that’s kind of a silly point to make. Hey, next time there’s a disaster in America, we should remind them that they could be in Uganda.

    Anyway, I’m not an expert on Parisian social economics. What I was responding to was someone calling the idea that economic conditions may be playing a role “bilge,” which seemed incredibly stupid to me.

  54. 54
    Steve S says:

    I’m tired of you crazy conservatives! Things are not so bad in France! They are building fine schools there, and the power is working, and they have clean water!

    Why can’t you talk about all the good things happening? why must you focus solely on the bad?

  55. 55
    scs says:

    Well I think that riots here are based more on feelings on persecution under the law, not so much protest about their actual living conditions, or the fact that rioters may be poor. Considering that the living conditions don’t sound so bad for the projects in France, I would guess that it is also more about psychological complaints over treatment than actual living conditions.

  56. 56
    Tim F. says:

    according to this link:

    Nancy is 33rd. If you look at urban areas:

    Nancy is 15th.

    Thank you for correcting me. This was a datum that I’d picked up in my travels and never bothered to look up.

  57. 57
    Veeshir says:

    These links
    seem to suggest that it was planned by radical Islamists.
    First line from second story

    PARIS, Sept 27 (AFP) – An Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has issued a call for action against France which it describes as “enemy number one”, intelligence officials said Tuesday.

    and first line from first story

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005; A15
    PARIS — French police investigating plans by a group of Islamic extremists to attack targets in Paris discovered last month that the group was recruiting French citizens to train in the Middle East and return home to carry out terrorist attacks, sources familiar with the investigation said.

  58. 58
    Veeshir says:

    Sorry, Links courtesy of
    Captain’s Quarters

  59. 59
    Lines says:

    Ah, Strasbourg, how I lust to return to the mingling of German, French and Austrian architecture. How I long to mingle in your cathedral, the feelings of thousands of years of prayer mingling with the dust motes from the time when Gods walked the earth.

    How I miss beautiful Strasbourg.

  60. 60
    DougJ says:

    They are building fine schools there, and the power is working, and they have clean water!

    The rioting is in its last throes. Freedom is on the march.

  61. 61
    Steve S says:

    An Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has issued a call for action against France which it describes as “enemy number one”, intelligence officials said Tuesday.

    WOO HOO!

    America is no longer enemy number one!

    The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism is working!

  62. 62

    […] Uprising in France […]

  63. 63
    Karts says:

    “The key difference is cultural. When you arrive in America, you’re an American practically before the ink on your visa is dry. There’s no such thing as an ethnic ‘American.’ In Europe people have a deep sense of ethnicity; they can tell where you’re from by every detail of your appearance, and your manner of speech indicates your social class. Here nobody cares who your parents are or what they did, while that is far from true in Europe. ”

    Tim:

    You seem to be asserting that there is no real class or race problem in the US, as opposed to France. This is a common White American middle class misconception. It’s understandable, considering the White middle class rarely encounters any other demographic or point of view; but it lends ‘color’ and incredulity to your point of view, and therefore your arguement.
    Also, your use of the phrase “perceived second-hand treatment” sounds like what a lot of members of ethnic majorities say to describe what they would call blatant racism and discrimination if THEY were the minority. Did you know that long before the riots began, police would patrol the banlieux IN RIOT GEAR in order to provoke and intimidate residents??
    Maybe you should rethink your position on bias and racism. I don’t think it’s as balanced as you think it is…

  64. 64
    grep says:

    I was in France in 2000 when I was staying at a hotel with an Algerian woman at the front desk. She said the French owner was trying to force her to sign something saying she would not get her legally mandated paid vacation time. She said her Algerian husband was an architect who could not find work in spite of his education because of prejudice. There is a lot of not only anti immigrant sentiment but anti Algerian sentiment in particular because of the loss of the war. A little known fact of French history is that 800 Algerians were drowned or hung in 2 or 3 days in 1968 in Paris by the police – not one word about it appeared in the media. There is a lot of residual resentment on both sides stemming from the war.

    Lest we jump too quickly to condemn the situation, ask how many would be dead now if this had occurred in modern day L.A. with Uzis available everywhere. Hundreds of police and others would have died. There were only about 10 police shot with shotguns in all of France, a tribute to the sense of gun control.

  65. 65

    […] The simple answer to the first question is that not only did the Dutch editors know full well what they were stepping in, that was more or less the point. For reasons that are at least partially their own fault (see here and here) many European countries have become increasingly burdened with a breed of fundamentalist Islam that, like most extreme fundamentalism, sets out to impose its particular rules and taboos on everybody (that, by the way, is the basis for John’s American Taliban comment – the subset of fundamentalists who want to impose their mores on others involuntarily, by violence if necessary. The relative degree of violence does not change the larger point). Radical fundamentalism inevitably runs up against a western tradition in which nobody and nothing is considered immune scrutiny and humor, as experienced by Salman Rushdie, Theo Van Gogh and countless others who have recieved beatings and death threats over the last ten years. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] The simple answer to the first question is that not only did the Dutch editors know full well what they were stepping in, that was more or less the point. For reasons that are at least partially their own fault (see here and here) many European countries have become increasingly burdened with a breed of fundamentalist Islam that, like most extreme fundamentalism, sets out to impose its particular rules and taboos on everybody (that, by the way, is the basis for John’s American Taliban comment – the subset of fundamentalists who want to impose their mores on others involuntarily, by violence if necessary. The relative degree of violence does not change the larger point). Radical fundamentalism inevitably runs up against a western tradition in which nobody and nothing is considered immune scrutiny and humor, as experienced by Salman Rushdie, Theo Van Gogh and countless others who have recieved beatings and death threats over the last ten years. […]

  2. […] Uprising in France […]

  3. […] From Balloon Juice’s new poster, Tim F.: Briefly, the 9/11 hijackers fell into two basic categories. Hired muscle, who came largely from the middle east directly, and the brains/coordinators. The second group consisted of western-educated and culturally literate natives of Saudi Arabia and other arab states who had spent considerable time in Belgium and other European countries before coming to America for the purposes of the attack. Atta did not arrive in Belgium embittered and radical. In fact his relatively well-off family sent him west with the idea of enriching his hometown with the cultural and business savvy that he would learn ‘over there.’ Yet somehow by the time he left Atta was ready to do inhuman things to other people whom he no longer even saw as people. Why? A second question would be, why haven’t any anti-American Islamic terrorists originated in America? […]

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