Monday, November 14, 2005


HatTip to Sam. Great editorial in the New York Sun. It's a bit old, but definitely worth posting here. I guess my vision of France in the future might not be far off. Anyway, this op-ed is spot on... right on... going on... :)

If President Chirac thought he was going to gain peace with the Muslim community in France by taking an appeasement line in the Iraq war, it certainly looks like he miscalculated. Today the streets of the French capital are looking more like Ramallah and less like the advanced, sophisticated, gay Paree image Monsieur Chirac likes to portray to the world, and the story, which is just starting to grip the world's attention, is full of ironies. One is tempted to suggest that Prime Minister Sharon send a note cautioning Monsieur Chirac about cycles of violence.

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."

How the times have changed. Muslims in Paris's suburbs are out shooting at police and firefighters, burning cars and buildings, and throwing rocks at commuter trains. Even children are out on the streets - it was reported that a 10-year-old was arrested. The trigger for the riots was the electrocution of two teenagers last Thursday, which the rioters say came following a police chase, a charge the police deny. But even if the charge by the rioters is true, that the police are culpable in the deaths of the two youths, the fact that such an incident would spark a riot is a sign of something deeper at work - no doubt France's failure to integrate its immigrant Muslim community.
(full op-ed)

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