Thursday, November 24, 2005

Left Behind

Reader MIG points to an interview in Haazretz of French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, who makes the argument that recent riots in France are not quite the "race riots" and yet not quite the "intifada" rival commentators have set out to describe.

"We prefer to say the 'youths' instead of 'blacks' or 'Arabs.' But the truth cannot be sacrificed, no matter how noble the reasons. ... This isn't about blacks and Arabs as a whole, but about some blacks and Arabs. And, of course, religion -- not as religion, but as an anchor of identity, if you will -- plays a part. Religion as it appears on the Internet, on the Arab television stations, serves as an anchor of identity for some of these youths.

Finkielkraut coins the term 'Islamization of the race issue' to describe how current grievances are retrospectively given a meaning that they never had. 

"one mustn't forget that the integration of the Arab workers in France during the time of colonial rule was much easier. In other words, this is belated hatred. Retrospective hatred ... It was Louis Farrakhan, in America, who asserted for the first time that the Jews played a central role in creating slavery ... He wants a 'Holocaust' for Arabs and blacks, too. But if you want to put the Holocaust and slavery on the same plane ... slavery ... began long before the West. In fact, what sets the West apart when it comes to slavery is that it was the one to eliminate it. The elimination of slavery is a European and American thing. But this truth about slavery cannot be taught in schools. ... Suddenly, they look around, and they see all the 'bobo' (French slang for bourgeois-bohemians) singing songs of praise to the new 'wretched of the earth'"

... I think that the lofty idea of 'the war on racism' is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology. And this anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century. A source of violence ... apparently it's already too late to make them feel ashamed, since on the radio, on television and in the newspapers, or in most of them, they're holding a prettifying mirror up to the rioters. They're 'interesting' people, they're nurturing their suffering and they understand their despair.

Commentary

What Finkielkraut may be describing, from another point of view, is the birth of a nation, a separate nation within the bosom of its parent, a process that Tom Paine would have been familiar with. Finkielkraut was right to wonder whether the criminalization of French history, as taught to immigrants, has "dealt a decisive blow to the France I loved". Surely that was the intention, because it is impossible to understand the recent riots in France except as a joint product of the Left and of Islamism. The one point on which both are agreed is the hatefulness of the West and the program of action that flows from that. The Finkielkraut interview ends with two questions, to which he answers in despair.

And what will happen in France?

"I don't know. I'm despairing. Because of the riots and because of their accompaniment by the media. The riots will subside, but what does this mean? There won't be a return to quiet. It will be a return to regular violence. So they'll stop because there is a curfew now, and the foreigners are afraid and the drug dealers also want the usual order restored. But they'll gain support and encouragement for their anti-republican violence from the repulsive discourse of self-criticism over their slavery and colonization. So that's it: There won't be a return to quiet, but a return to routine violence."

So your worldview doesn't stand a chance anymore?

"No, I've lost. As far as anything relating to the struggle over school is concerned, I've lost. It's interesting, because when I speak the way I'm speaking now, a lot of people agree with me. Very many. But there's something in France - a kind of denial whose origin lies in the bobo, in the sociologists and social workers - and no one dares say anything else. This struggle is lost. I've been left behind."

68 Comments:

Blogger sqlserver said...

Wretchard:

Where on a scale of 1 to 10 do you think the French politicians; businessmen; intellectuals put the recent riots?

0 = Whatever
10 = End of the world

Anecdotally in conservations with my niece who taught in France for a couple of years she could of cared less.

11/24/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

"But there's something in France - a kind of denial whose origin lies in the bobo, in the sociologists and social workers - and no one dares say anything else.

France has been in denial of its history since at least the battle of Waterloo. 'Dignified' by the name Postmodernism, France is reaping the whirlwind of saying His story is just as good as Her story - there is no objective truth. The philosophy where nobody is ever wrong, not even social workers.

But there is one good result: isn't bobo a great new word?

ADE

11/24/2005 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ed onWestSlope said...

Social Suicide.
Amazing to behold!! How can these people do it to themselves?

The same way we are doing it to ourselves. We forget our past. Our history is either evil or not worthy of our interest.

11/24/2005 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Wretchard: "Surely that was the intention, because it is impossible to understand the recent riots in France except as a joint product of the Left and of Islamism."

Sir, it is possible to understand the recent riots as one specific example of a more generalized dysfunction in the process of humnakind's coming of age, maturing.

Baha'u'llah calls us to the one-ness of humankind; when we turn instead to racist concepts, He isn't wrong, WE are.

Baha'u'llah calls us to Justice, the Best-Beloved of all things in the sight of God; when we turn away, we get riots, systemic and endemic injustice and widespread discontent.

The coming of age of humanity, foretold for 7,000 previous years of written history, is only 161 years into its course; men get angry that women want to be 'equal', blacks get angry at whites and yellows, poor get angry at rich...

There IS another way, a valid interpretation, of the events in France although they ARE leftist-Islamozoid also, Sir.

11/24/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

The Frenchies nihilism; so easily defeated. Nothing to hold onto.

11/24/2005 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

W
As you have often said, intelligence is gathered by contact with the enemy.
In the case of the Francofada the side which initiated the contact stood to gain the most operative intelligence.
If it was 20 or so days of French and other isolated European insurrections, combusting spontaneously across Europe's landscape, well, no one would have been there to take notes.

But if the 20 days of rioting were "guided", "encouraged" or "led" by Mohammedan Jihadists or sympathizers, well then....

Watch out for Phase II.
Timed to coincide when pressure is put on Iran or Syria.
Notice that talk of a Security Council referal for Iran has died.

The Russians have been added, a new seat at the negotiation table.
Now we are engaging in 5 party talks with Iran.

11/24/2005 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I have tried to figure out the genesis of this tendency to hurl the epithet "racist" in an effort to win an argument. You see it being done both by our Left here in the U.S., and by young Arab men in Iraq, France and England when they've been caught red-handed and busted.

I had thought it to be an attempt to win a politically correct argument by applying a guilt trip, or to play the "race card" such as OJ Simpson did. And evidently, in some Yurp countries, there are "hate laws", although I'm not quite sure if "hate laws" have anything to do with racism, per se.

But if I'm reading Finkielkraut correctly, what he is positing is this concept of "racism" will be used by black and brown people to hide behind while they are busy massacreing white people (and Jews).

Since there seems to be virulent and on-going racism in most of the rest of the world, including in England, France, Germany and all of the Middle East, do citizens of *those* countries try to win arguments and prove themselves correct by calling each other racists? Since they all are racists, what would this accomplish? I'm thinking now especially of countries like Saudi Arabia where their racism towards the Pakistani's, Filippino's and Indians who actually *run* their country is a point of pride.

Or do the Europeans save the racist threat to hurl at Americans, and the brown people only hurl it at the white people? This gets down to the crux of my previous dissection of this issue: That the rest of the world watched as American culture since the 1960's came to terms with racism, legislated against it, and began to evolve out of a situation where skin color made any difference.

And in doing so, has the rest of the world thereby concluded that the issue of "racism" is somehow the soft underbelly of America, and that if any un- (or anti-) American wants to gain a toe up in an argument, all they need to do is call us a "RACIST!" and we'll melt in a puddle of guilty sobbing jelly?

But given Finkielkraut's theory, what I had been thinking seems too benign, and that use of the word "racist!" (always with the exclamation point) will not be used to guilt-trip us into submission, but will be used as a form of giving of permission that will allow the Them to kill the Us ... preferrably by beheading.

This is a conundrum which I'm still puzzling over, because I don't get a sense of how Yurps and others react when they themselves are called racist. It just seems like the most stupid thing to allege if you're trying to browbeat the other guy ... so WHY do so many of the commenters on this site do it?

11/24/2005 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Incidently, I agree that "normal" French people don't give the riots any importance at all. They are all breathing a sigh of relief, and getting back to hating America while telling us how much they want us to go to France and spend our tourist dollars, on the grounds that no one was killed (much) so what difference does it make?

11/24/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

ooops - in the comment above, the final line should have read "commenters on the web", not "site". I meant absolutely no imputation that commenters on Belmont use the "racism card". Fingers typing of their own volition again.

11/24/2005 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Here's another graph of the carbeques:

Carbeques

11/24/2005 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

This rioting in France was sparked by a number of factors.

Most of the rioting was the work of Muslim youths. I don't believe they were consciously acting as an Islamist destabilizing force, because interviews with these youths often lack coherency and reflect immaturity. These are angry kids, and yes many do ascribe to notions of a global umma and cultivate a certain type of jihadist chic, but most of them are clueless when it comes to the deeper political ramifications of their actions.

Racism played at least some part in this. Despite its generous social services, France runs a two-tiered society. Racism in France is rarely overt, but is practiced in whispers and also in exclusionary behavior directed at immigrants and others who are deemed to be non-French. Unlike N. America were citizenship confers equal partnership, France still operates a double standard. The creation of these sink estates in which to warehouse immigrants reflects a mindset that clearly wants to keep newcomers at arm's length. Such estates of course become spawning grounds for terrorism as a consequence, so in a sense French policies are helping to cultivate the home grown terror.

This racist tendency in France isn't exclusively directed toward Muslims. There is also a lot of anti-Semitic feeling. This was borne out very clearly not so long ago, when the French Ambassador to the UK made the "dirty little country" remark with respect to Israel.

Hover I think to suggest that these riots were Islamist driven is pushing it. There may have been an Islamist influence at work, but it wasn’t some broad based strategy. There appeared to be no prior plan.

I saw a number of these "North African" Paris-based gang members interviewed prior to these riots. These kids were well fed, decked out in the coolest fashions and accessories, hooked into their own brand of jihadist hip hop chic and exuded an air of smug confidence. They didn't look like hungry job seekers to me.

It was clear that they viewed French society as "other" - something to be played and scammed, but not to be taken seriously. Their entire identity was derived from some larger belief in an Islamic umma or "community" and they referred to it the way an exiled son fondly refers to the family back home. Sure, this isn't refined jihadist activism ... but it is a cultural statement that shows where these kids' loyalties lie.

These particular youths didn’t look hard done by or in need of a leg up into the French mainstream. Any complaints they had on that score appeared to be voiced in order to play into the leftist concerns of the interviewer, rather than a concern that was genuinely felt. Their rhetoric was crafted and their cynicism coolly focused.

It can be enormously empowering to be part of a sub-culture, fighting a common enemy. Truth is a lot of these kids are probably having the time of their lives. What sixteen year old male who feels repressed and misunderstood wouldn't love to douse his "fascist" dad's Mercedes in gasoline and toss a lit match. It's the ultimate teen fantasy.

What makes this more sinister, is that it isn't simply the underdog kicking back in a passing fit of rage, but has the potential to morph into an urban resistance with much more serious implications. And by the way, creating jobs programs for these youths won't necessarily prevent that from happening, because this clash goes deeper than temporal needs and a desire to climb the ladder of social mobility.

11/24/2005 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

You have a huge number of young people, born and raised in a community foreign to France, but financially supported by French taxpayers - kind of like the Britons paying gold to the Danes, back in the day.

I don't understand this insistence that - since the 'youth' cannot express a full blown jihadi theory to the waiting media - therefore Islam is only a minor part of the whole horrible thing.

The Idea of Islam is the force that separates these 'youths' from Western Europe, and it is one that will maintain its strengh throughout their lives. And by Western Europe, I mean not only Christian Europe, but also modern, Secular post Enlightenment Europe.

In 1968, the Youth of Paris put up barricades and had riots and for the rest of their lives have provided the strength for the Political Left. In the process, the cathedrals have become museums.

And now, it is the Islamic youths' turn. They will make the museums into mosques.

11/24/2005 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

it's been said recently
that the Left's #1 battle
is the "Attack on Language".

and also,
that the Left's language
is not about Problem-Solving,
or even about Communication,
but simply about>>>More Language.

Finkielkraut is ready,
and willing to give up,
because in a a nation of "intellectuals",there is
no one to discuss "ideas" with.

"For men awake,there is one common cosmos, but men asleep turn away,
each one into a private world."
-Heraclitus

11/24/2005 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

to add:

"Finkielkraut is ready,
and willing to give up,
because in a a nation of "intellectuals",there is
no one to discuss "ideas" with."


surely this is the definiton of the
"death of France".

in a way,"the youths"
have little to do with it.

11/24/2005 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Most of the Chinese that US Forces battled in Korea were not, themselves, dedicated Communists.
Not all German soldiers in WWII were Nazis.

I would not submit that the riots were initially instigated by the Mohammedan Jihadists or foreign agents. I would submit, though, that those Jihasists and agents took advantage of the situation when it presented itself.

Twenty days of "spontaneous" disorder is a nonsensical, as the rioters were using electronic communications, requiring known adressees.
There WAS an organization to the French disruption, the question is WHOSE organization it is, and to WHAT purpose it is operating.

Stalin found "useful idiots" were just that, useful idiots.
How better to describe youthful rioters of the Francofada.

11/24/2005 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Much like the aQ criminals in Iraq that are both being "backpacked" by and "hijacking" the "legitimate" Sunni Insurection, the Jihadists will use a similar strategy in Europe.

No Catastrophic Event Required

11/24/2005 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

Heather - the situation is somewhat complicated in France, in that a lot of these youths live in an almost schizophrenic condition. They speak French perfectly, can relate easily to European culture ... play soccer, roller blade etc etc. Also, many of the youths I have seen interviewed seldom or never attend mosque. A lot of them are nominal Muslims at best.

It's a crucial time for France.

However, I really believe that it would take a lot to redicalize the majority of these teens so that they move toward actual terrorism of the jihadi brand. A small hard core minority are already close to that. As we know some French Muslim youths have been apprehended in Iraq. But this is is still a very small, even miniscule minority.

Of course, if the French don't address this issue and confront their own ingrained racism, it's possible the situation will become more polarized in the coming years.

I grew up in N.Ireland during "The Troubles", and in the 60's it began the same way ... wide spread rioting, along with car and house burnings. As you know this escalated into paramilitary action.

I see the French situation developing in a similar way. For example, given the loose affiliations with Islam and the unassimilated "Frenchness" of these youths, I can see a paramilitary resistance emerging that adopts tactic similar to ETA and the IRA. This seems more likely to me, rather than these youths becoming Al Qaeda fighters of the bin Laden variety. Such a localized resistance would likely cite social, political and economic discrimination, as did the IRA, and use terror as a weapon. Their aim though wouldn't be the Islamification of French society (since a lot of these youths are Islamic in name and custom only), but rather would focus of obtaining political concessions that would lead to greater opportunity and inclusion within the French system.

Such a movement could of course be exploited by radical Islamists. It's no secret that the IRA had extensive connections with international terror groups, so there is always this type of cross-over.

11/24/2005 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

What Finkielkraut may be describing, from another point of view, is the birth of a nation, a separate nation within the bosom of its parent, ....

I hope I do not offend anyone by noticing that somehow the American Civil Rights movement for equality led to our current state of difference.

Somehow the good-meaning energy of Self-awareness in a self-defined community led to differentiation and separation. The message devolved into a concentration upon the worst of the past, to create a lasting separation in the future.

In America, the original goal of every one freely joining the American opportunity free of discarded racist shackles, ie, EQUAL RIGHTS, devolved into an obsessive concentration on reparations for the 150 year old sins that were fought against and decided in America's bloodiest war.

Sound familiar? Fighting over ancient wrongs against generations long dead.

Even in America, we birthed a sort of separate nation. These same "irreparable" harms must be so much worse in less free societies, where rancor and rumor rule.

What Finkielkraut may be describing, from another point of view, is the birth of a nation, a separate nation within the bosom of its parent,

"Definition of cancer (noun forms plural: cancers)
disease where cells divide at an excessive rate and become abnormal in function; malignancy; neoplasm"
http://www.english-test.net/pcat/vocabulary/words/071/pcat-definitions.php#cancer

11/24/2005 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Maybe Sharon was right.. France is no place for Jews..

and maybe Frenchpeople....

11/24/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/25/2005 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger Arthur Parry said...

Suddenly, they look around, and they see all the 'bobo' (French slang for bourgeois-bohemians)

The French are using David Brooks' slanguage? Does l'Académie know about this?

11/25/2005 01:28:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"That which is, is. That which is not, is not is."

The normblog profile 114: Gerard Van der Leun

11/25/2005 03:14:00 AM  
Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Funny, where I live, here in the Philippines, "bobo" means stupid or dunce. Coincidence?

We called our relatives in Paris last night. My brother-in-law had every window broken out of his shop. My niece's laundry was burned out, a total loss. They also lost both their cars. Years of work down the drain, and she hasn't stopped crying in despair.

It's easy to feel disconnected and "indifferent" UNTIL it's YOUR car, and YOUR business.

11/25/2005 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Nice theory Finkielkraut, a minority in Europe is destroying it from within by not letting go of the past, and instead of concentrating on recent Western achievements, they are emphasizing past “evils” perpetrated upon defenseless minorities by the white European. Mr. Pot let me introduce you to Mr. Kettle and boy isn’t he black.

Now I might be slightly more sympathetic to Mr. Finkielkraut’s point of view if he hadn’t spent almost the entirety of his career writing about how important memory is and that we must never forget the holocaust. Future of a Negation: Reflections on the Question of Genocide reminds us how important it is to “never forget”. But isn’t this just an emphasis on Europe’s evil past? It now seems that shorter “new Finkielkraut” is “Don’t worry, be happy”. Applied to Jews, it seems his message would clearly be: Western society struggled with anti-Semitism, and if we want to be subversive, to create divisions and destroy our sacred institutions we could concentrate on past blunders; but wouldn’t it be better to emphasis the fact the Europe and America have become the first societies that have ever wiped out anti-Semitism? According to “new Finkielkraut” instead of Auschwitz, French schoolteachers should emphasis the four Jewish Prime Ministers of France, Leon Blum, Rene Mayer, Pierre Mendes-France and Michel Debre. And look how many great Jewish nuclear physicists “anti-Semitic” Europe created pre-WW2; you didn’t see many coming from Palestine back in the day; if Europe had hated Jews so much why were 50% of Hungary’s lawyers Jewish back in the 20’s when Jews only made up 5% of the population. And since it is obviously so destructive to discuss racism, it is surely even more harmful to write essays concerning anti-Semitism. Perhaps it’s just me but somehow I get the funny feeling that “new Finkielkraut” doesn’t apply to Jews.

My son recently started at an ultra conservative school here in Belgium (filled mostly with upper-class French kids for some reason) and he has become obsessed with drawing Leopold II, over and over again(and he sleeps with a Belgian flag in his bed!). Should I tell him about the 10 million Congolese that Leopold helped butcher? Actually I already have, surely Mr. Finkielkraut wouldn’t approve. I recently found a booklet written for children that explains the Belgian “adventures” in the Congo. I bought it to see how well contemporary Belgium was dealing with its past, and I can tell you, Mr. Finkielkraut would be quite proud, because there was nary a word about any unfortunate side effects of Leopold II gallant crusade to free the Congo of all those evil Arab slave traders. It hardly even mentioned the forced labor collecting rubber. It did say Belgian colonialists struggled to instill a good work ethic into the natives and that Belgians were no more racist than any other Westerners at the time. No problems here, Mr. Finkielkraut, concerning the Congo, Belgium society is still comfortably floating down that famous river in Egypt called denial. But they do still have a few holocaust museums though.

It is so sad to see Finkielkraut -- who has spent his entire career fighting the good fight against holocaust deniers and historical revisionists – imbibe their vile talking points and then redeploy them against his new enemies, the Blacks and the Arabs.

11/25/2005 03:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Years of work down the drain, and she hasn't stopped crying in despair."
---
I'm sure M. Chirac and the Hair Guy feel her pain.
---
I keep seeing parallels of problems w/"immigration" between the Euros and the USA,
namely:
DENIAL.
(Most profoundly in the Governing Class.)

11/25/2005 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Kevin,

It sounds reasonable to argue that if the Jews have the right to resent the Holocaust, then surely the blacks have the right to resent Leopold. One problem with the analogy of course, is that the there were very few Arabs in the Belgian Congo in Leopold's day, and the protesting youths did not burn cars in Brussels but in Paris. In fact there are hardly any Muslims in the Congo today and probably fewer when Leopold killed ten million of them. So if the Muslim youth were burning cars in France for what the Belgians did to animist and Christian blacks a century ago in the Congo it would be more out of sympathy than due to any direct resentment, such as the Jews might bear against France, which handed them over to the Germans because they were Jews, their being French citizens notwithstanding.

Finkielkraut seems half ready to quietly leave France, a policy more readily understandable than those who profess to hate it then proceed to emigrate there. Israel started out as a place where the Finkielkrauts could go, but that now seems like a bad idea to Europeans. Too bad, because if you wanted to deport Algerians you could always send them to Algeria. Where would you deport a Jew, given that Israel is illegitimate?

One day the press may notice that half of Saudi Arabia's workforce is expatriate; that unlike France's minorities they are not allowed to practice their own religion, unless it is Islam; nor are they allowed to transgress on the Saudi mores, on penalty of being whipped or worse. I guess that's the problem with comparisons; the relation of inequality goes round in a ring and eventually we arrive at an absurdity.

11/25/2005 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

W

Comparing the KSA's situation with foreign workers and the French discrimination against "browns" is as you say, circular absurdity.

Your link refers to a deportation of 100,000 foreigners sent home by the KSA. Deportations from France after the Francofada, hundreds at most.
The foreigners in the KSA are just that, foreigners. In France the "others" are "French". Born and bred natives.

The interesting thing about the Mohammedan Wars is while even those that believe that Mr Newt's 10% military - 90% other means formulation of the Battle Plan cannot agree on the ground the ground battle will be decided.

When US military ground troops are no longer the driving force of US response to foreign terrorism, will there be any reponse at all?

11/25/2005 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

"Well-Dressed Gang Terrorizes Oakland Liquor Stores"

http://www.ktvu.com/news/5397519/detail.html?rss=fran&psp=news

"The men strolled into the stores, walked around a while and then turned on the clerks telling them to -- "stop poisoning our neighborhoods." Then the violence turned to the liquor bottles and cans stocked both on shelves and in the coolers."


"Well dressed" indeed. Black suits and bow ties...kinda like the Nation of Islam, except of course we all know that they wouldn't do something like this. Watch the video. Absolutely no fear of being identified.

11/25/2005 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

And Britain:

http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=20295

"The First Step to Britishness Is Your Poppy"

"That evening I did what millions of rapt Britons do every year: I watched the magnificent Remembrance Day concert from the Royal Albert Hall on the BBC in primetime. The Queen looked unusually tense and somber. Shortly after the event we learned that Abu Musab al Zarqawi had issued a warning that Her Majesty, leader of the Crusaders, would be the next target of al Qaeda. There she stood, amid the shower of poppies that rained down on the packed hall, looking down on the thousands of brave service people, and she seemed desolate. The sum total the Muslim world could contribute to the commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II was this ugly threat from a man whose only occupation is spreading misery in his wake, be it a wedding in Jordan or a funeral in Iraq"

11/25/2005 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

The "youth" practice the same snobbery they have been exposed to in their adopted country. Still they remain apart from the mainstream for all the reasons - real and imagined - illiterated here.
The biggest danger I see is that they consider themselves apart from the society of which they still long to partake.
Their stature, being this grey area, could find a home in any place. When they seek to find it, they may choose to identify with their ancestral roots rather than their new home that has forsaken them.
The place they choose, however, espouses violence toward all that do not submit to its mores.

11/25/2005 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger poins said...

In France there is a pattern of denial of Christ - from the slaughter of the Huegenots to the embracing of Thomas Paine and his secular republic. You cannot reject one God without embracing another. The worst and least dependable god of all is the god of self. That is what the French seem to have chosen and he will be shoved out by allah.

11/25/2005 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gabriel Gonzalez said...

because it is impossible to understand the recent riots in France except as a joint product of the Left and of Islamism

I've got to disagree here. The causes are far more complex and have little to do with the "Left" (whatever that means in this context) or Islamism. Your analysis (like Finkielkraut's) is so reductionist as to be more wrong than right.

If by "Left", you mean collectivist policies that protect certain interest groups (major labor unions, civil service sector - which is huge and very powerful in France - dominant social groups, soon-to-retire bourgeois baby boomers) at the expense of others (the young, the unemployed, the hard-working and, in a big way, minorities), I agree as far as that limited point goes. The system indeed directly and, I think, intentionally - rather than as a mere byproduct - produces the marginalization that is in a big way at the heart of the problems we are seeing. Finkielkraut does not even seem to acknowledge this.

Even admitting the greater ease with which other ethnic/social groups (Vietnamese, Chinese, Jews, etc.) assimilate or adapt, North African and Black African youth (quite distinct groups, btw) are in a high unemployment, post-industrial context with few low skilled jobs available and what jobs might otherwise be available as an entry point into economic life are legislated out of the system, in part to protect entrenched groups. They are also subject to a great deal of racial discrimination in employment and housing. Try to find a job for which you are qualified or housing in central Paris as a non-white (in particular, as a black person or Arab) and you will know what I mean.

As a non-white person, I have myself been shocked by the level of discrimination in jobs and housing. This has not been a problem personally only because the most attractive jobs and living situations tend to be controlled by an international cosmopolitan elite (major multi-national companies, eg) and I have therefore only been excluded from the broader society that is closer to "La France Profonde". Not all have the opportunities I have. In particular, as I myself am an educated professional, virtually all of the Arabs and blacks I know are similarly educated, and they are only beginning to be well accepted in the business world, in particular for middle and upper middle management posts, and virtually all have problems in finding housing. They all complain of the same discrimination. The situation can only be worse for those living in the ghettoes.

I also point out that there were race riots in France 15 years ago after Pasqua was named Interior Minister and several North and Black Africans were murdered in police custody over the ensuing weeks. I participated in the protest marches and was told I was running with deliquents because violent incidents did in fact occur. This, while French farmers protesting the GATT negotiations, were overturning foreign trucks crossing the border with imported produce, cattle farmers ransacked the Rungis meat market, and Breton fisherman went on a rampage destroying storefronts, torching vehicles and eventually burning down the the Brittany Parliament. The latter were represented in the media as patriots rather than delinquents. They were also not marginalized adolescents from the ghettoes.

In short, many (including myself) have been predicting these riots and the related social and political problems for twenty years, long before Islamism was even a factor.

In some ways I agree more with André Glucksmann's thesis that the practices of the suburban "youth" are a sign of integration into society. Emmanuel Todd also has offered a similar view. After all, just as the major transit, public union, school teachers, truck drivers, dock workers, etc. have used their nuisance capacity to implement or prevent the implementation of reform policies by means (shutting down the economy) that can hardly be described as "democratic", the hoodlums of the suburbs have appropriated similar forms of nuisance capacity (burning vehicles) to practice street democracy. The daily economic cost to society by the current public transport workers strike (carried out to promote the political goal of state ownership of the railroads) is many times greater than the havoc caused in the suburbs.

I also point out that two weeks ago Thursday, in the midst of an unprecedented curfew and national emergency, the city of Lyon was plunged into the dark following vandalism of a power plant. The culprits: the communist-led CGT labor union claimed responsibility as a means of protesting the partial privatization of the state electric company EDF. Again, these people are not marginalized adolescents, but presumably adults in a presumably democratic society, and deserve far more blame, and less sympathy, than the youth run wild in the suburbs. I note however that the striking transport workers have the support of a majority (56%)of the French population. Them damn Catholics! Popular stupidity is as much a factor as the Left or Islamism.

As for Finkielkraut, his comments are distressing to me. Finkielkraut developed a useful concept of "anti-racism" as a vehicle for promotion of various hate ideologies, in particular anti-semitism (but once can add anti-Americanism and anti-globalization). There is a great deal of value in this concept and Finkielkraut managed to expose as a fraud much of the angelic moral kant underlying certain pro-Islam apologists, but even more so the anti-Globalization movement.

As you probably know, Finkielkraut later got into a spat with Tariq Ramadan whom he accused of anti-semitism after Ramadan published a critique aimed at Jewish Intellectuals, including Finkielkraut, for practicing pro-Israeli "communitarianism".

Unfortunately, Finkielkraut seems to be undermining his own thesis and playing into the hands of his adversaries by recognizing as the only "worthwhile" form of racial discrimination that practiced agains Jews. He seems to have saved Tariq the trouble of a follow up article.

Finkielkraut recently said in Haaretz: "When an Arab torches a school, it's rebellion. When a white guy does it, it's fascism." The same reasoning applies to blacks in Watts in 1965 or the ANC in apartheid South Africa. It requires only a small step to saying Jews in the occupied territoires. Le Pen could scarcely have put it better.

Finkielkraut's moral credibility will not emerge unscathed.

Finally, the Left is indeed a problem, but perhaps not in the way you mean. The Left (and I include the nationalist pro-dirigiste Gaullists) is too wedded to defending the injustices of the French "modèle social" including the defense of various entrenched labor and public service sector groups who can manage to align with a majority of either the nominal right or the left. This model is deeply reactionary, in particular as it is based on 19th century paradigms of class warfare that even Marx would laugh at. It is self-evidently inimical to the interests of marginalized minorities inasmuch as it opposes social mobility, equal opportunity, job creation, etc. in favor of protecting those who believe they have a continued interest in the status quo. As one political commentator recently said (can't remember who?), the French will continue to vote themselves the same benefits until the most ambitious among them have emigrated to London and the rioters have reached the Arc de Triomphe.

(Apologies simultaneously for the length as well as the lack of elaboration)

11/25/2005 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger David2 said...

The left clearly wants to use the islamists for its own ends. The islamists feel the same about the left.

It's unfortunate that so many peace loving people are going to be crushed in this love affair. But they do have a chance to vote, periodically! If they could get beyond the constant propaganda in their busy lives.

11/25/2005 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Maconachy, a slight correction. The French ambassador was heard to describe Israel as “a shitty little country”. Obviously he has never been to Israel or he wouldn't have ever made such a remark. Hope your recollection of the remark isn't a Freudian slip. ;)

11/25/2005 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Wretchard,

Although I am at a loss to explain why mostly Arab and Black French youths would burn their own cars, shops and pre-schools (I’m inclined to agree with Emmanuel Todd’s analysis referred to in Gabriel Gonzalez’ post above), I agree that it most certainly had little or nothing to do with King Leopold II’s genocide in the Congo. I was trying to refute to this statement by Finkielkraut when I brought up the special little bit of colonial history:

But in France, instead of fighting his kind of talk, they're actually doing what he asks: changing the teaching of colonial history and the history of slavery in the schools. Now they teach colonial history as an exclusively negative history. We don't teach anymore that the colonial project also sought to educate, to bring civilization to the savages. They only talk about it as an attempt at exploitation, domination and plunder.

Your comment about Saudi Arabia’s policies towards guest workers gave me pause. Surely what we see going on there is the result of the complete rejection of multi-culturalism by the Saudis. But this is the exact same advice often given to Europeans; reject multi-culturalism. But isn’t the necessary result of any society taking such path a country that looks a lot like Saudi Arabia? Is a middle ground possible? I don’t know.

11/25/2005 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I mean at the end of the day, if we are going to teach the positive aspects of colonialism, shouldn’t we also educate our children on the positive aspects of terrorism? Is there really that much difference between the two? I’m sure the Saudis that crashed into those twin towers wanted our woman to cover their shameful bodies, our men to stop acting like savages by drinking, swearing, etc., they wanted to bring us their God to worship, and I am sure they would have wanted to impose their language on us.

11/25/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger noprisoners said...

The French problem(s) will continue and grow. The lack of a coherent assessment of the reasons for the riots, etc., eliminates the possibility of a coherent search for a solution.

The "youths", whether observant Muslims or not, have something in which that can touch as a rallying point. What does the rest of France have? As is said in American politics "you can't beat something with nothing". The "youths" don't need heavy weapons or a majority status to prevail. Their enemy is a confused, self-denying, aging, socialist amalgam that has no idea of how to save itself.

11/25/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

poins said ...

"In France there is a pattern of denial of Christ - from the slaughter of the Huegenots to the embracing of Thomas Paine and his secular republic. You cannot reject one God without embracing another. The worst and least dependable god of all is the god of self. That is what the French seem to have chosen and he will be shoved out by allah."

You're right that there has been this pattern in France. However I would argue that their secular Republic isn't as egalitarian as they would like people to believe. The French are extremely xenophobic and racist in a very sophisticated way. They don't don white hoods and burn crosses on people's lawns, but a shrug and a roll of the eyes conveys it all.

The model of integration in the USA and Canada is light years ahead of France, where there is in fact a huge cleavage between the "pure laine" or "pure wool" French (as they like to say in Quebec), and "the others". This situation provided the fuel for the recent fires and may lead to a more serious insurrection in the future.

So I don't think the problem is the secular nature of the society per se, nor do I think "Allah" will replace the status quo in France. A different type of Islamic culture is emerging there; a hybrid culture that marries Islamic heritage with European attitudes and lifestyle. It's quite a complex sociological development.

In any case, I have no wish to see any God dominating in our democratic societies - including the Christian God. Religion should remain a private affair in societies that are composed of peoples of all religious faiths. How can any one group feel like an equal party in our society if one religion and its tenets becomes dominant?

The secular nature of the French society isn't so much the problem here, as hidden inequities and injustices that are leading to polarization and conflict.

**Mika - ty for the correction on the French ambassador's "shitty little country" comment. A truly vile remark from a man who should know better.

11/25/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

So Wretchard The Cat,

I think we know what winning in a particular theater of the GWOT looks like:

'The End of the Beginning'

and very presumptuous of me:
'Winning the War on Terror'

I now think we know what losing in a particular theater of the GWOT looks like...

Is France French enough to withstand militant Islam?

11/25/2005 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Voltimand said...

"The Left" in the comments that tend to denigrate an explanation of the French rioting by way of applying the marxist narrative template is, I think, interpreted too narrowly and ideologically.

The fundamental impulse of marxism is not equality; it is envy and "envyism," i.e., what might be called "envy-by-proxy."

Envy is the notion that whatever someone possesses that I don't possess, is possessed at my expense, has been somehow taken away from me, and is therefore "justly" (read: "social justice") owed me. It used to be called one of the 7 deadly sins, since known as a fundamental value in describing the rights and obligations of inviduals in society in relation to one another.

"Envyism" can be defined as the use of a zero-sum model of distribution of the objects of human desire, on the assumption that a supreme value in all human societies is to make existence comfortable for the envious.

When this doesn't happen, great anger and outrage occurs, because a major criterion of morality has been violated.

11/25/2005 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"I mean at the end of the day, if we are going to teach the positive aspects of colonialism, shouldn’t we also educate our children on the positive aspects of terrorism?"
---
duh,
Sure, ...if we're writing for the Daily Kos. ;-)
---
Perhaps the Belgian Congo has no similarities whatsoever, but I use the "Civilizing Christians" as an example of the absurdity of throwing out all the positives of a situation while revising History in order to promote the pc notions of multiculturalism which are no more than a rejection of everything "western," or more precisely a total rejection of the very best of the west.

You seem to have a more idealized notion of the meaning of multiculturalism, Kevin.

To me IN PRACTICE it is nothing more than a smokescreen behind which it's promoters tear down this country block by block, brick by brick.

In Hawaii, the "Invaders" saw to it that many natives (those fortunate enough to be living near missionary schools) received excellent educations.
Even the public schools here were excellent prior to "liberalization" which consisted of bringing in all the "latest ("liberal"-secular) improvements in education" from the mainland.

11/25/2005 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nahncee writes,
"Has the rest of the world thereby concluded that the issue of "racism" is somehow the soft underbelly of America, and that if any un- (or anti-) American wants to gain a toe up in an argument, all they need to do is call us a "RACIST!" and we'll melt in a puddle of guilty sobbing jelly?

But given Finkielkraut's theory, what I had been thinking seems too benign, and that use of the word "racist!" (always with the exclamation point) will not be used to guilt-trip us into submission, but will be used as a form of giving of permission that will allow the Them to kill the Us ... preferrably by beheading
"

Wretchard writes,
Finkielkraut was right to wonder whether the criminalization of French history, as taught to immigrants, has "dealt a decisive blow to the France I loved".
Surely that was the intention, because it is impossible to understand the recent riots in France except as a joint product of the Left and of Islamism
.
---
"The Criminalization of French history"
"Victimology
"
---

I submit that the key issue here is SUBMISSION,
and although the Islamists are focused on submission, and find fertile fields in the West, the West was practicing submission to a suicidal degree long before we were generally aware of the Islamist threat.

Nahncee rightly points to the Civil Rights Movement as important in shaping opinions others have of us here, but without that movement and without the Islamofascists, the west was still embarked on a suicidal course fueled by "liberal" "insight" into our less than perfect history.
With this insight, they feel empowered to throw out all standards which have worked through the ages.
This has multiple payoffs for the enlightened, some of which are:

1. NOT HAVING TO LIVE UP TO ANY TRADITIONAL STANDARDS.
a. Assuaging of Guilt by Projection of all their denied human impulses onto the "other."
(Racist, Male, Homophobic Wasps, and etc)
b. Feeling good about themselves for being so "caring about the oppressed."
c. Empowered by Govt Edict to steal from others (taxes) in order to minister to the oppressed while being both empowered and relatively well paid.
...on and on.
...and the exquisite masochistic pleasures of cultural suicide, and the denied but evident nihilistic accomplishment of destroying the future for your offspring, while feeling superior to the lesser enlightened.
Yes, "liberalism" is indeed a mental disorder, involving the lifelong acting out of unresolved problems with parental, religious, and authority figures.
...as well as the sheer ease of going along with the impulse to simply carry on, sheep like, with whatever is happening.
Ignorance is bliss.

11/25/2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Greetings y'all, far and near.

Thank you Wretchard for another interesting post.

The kurrent kerfuffel in France can be seen two ways: conquest or surrender, but which is which? Are the French surrendering to the "got nothing to loose" Islamees? Or has the die been cast by the parents of these "youths" when they decided to leave Islamidom and move to France? And all we are seeing is the two getting comfortable with this transition to secular/pagan France accompanied by some regrettable incidents; foo foo foo. And the bobos as usual don't get it and who cares besides Finklekraut.(That name is precious.)

Secular is just the modern term for Pagan. Paganism has reemerged with a vengeance. It is not a pretty sight.Pagan means worldly wise.The Bible locates the center of Paganism in the ancient Roman Empire. From Rome this "spirit" conquered the world. All the tin pot dictators around the world are little Caesars: whatever it takes to be on top. Wild Bill Clinton is a classic indiginous example.

(America is different. The question is can it remain.Can it survive the bloody Clintons and the Kennedys et al.)

Therefore inasmuch as Islam is a Pagan/worldly wise religion and the dominant culture of "secular" La Belle France is the same they should be as happy as peas in a pod. Of course they are not. There is no honor among thieves. And if history is any indicator these two particular pagan cultures do not mix very well. So long as one or the other has the upper hand they can relate but once there is any question as to who is the stronger they bloody one another.

If the French are wise they will either imprison or kill or deport the ringleaders and all those who follow them will leave France and the remainder will become Catholics.

Here in America we need to hold the Judeo/Christian line: stop murdering the innocents in the womb, realize there is no evidence for evolution and laugh at "Sir" Elton John getting married to another man. This will do more to stabilize France than marching armies in the Levant.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all.

11/25/2005 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger David Davenport said...

Your comment about Saudi Arabia’s policies towards guest workers gave me pause. Surely what we see going on there is the result of the complete rejection of multi-culturalism by the Saudis. But this is the exact same advice often given to Europeans; reject multi-culturalism. But isn’t the necessary result of any society taking such path a country that looks a lot like Saudi Arabia? Is a middle ground possible? I don’t know.
In any case, I have no wish to see any God dominating in our democratic societies - including the Christian God. Religion should remain a private affair in societies that are composed of peoples of all religious faiths. How can any one group feel like an equal party in our society if one religion and its tenets becomes dominant?

But multi-kulturalism doesn't work. That is the main point.

And I notice that you old-fashioned Lefties do indeed scorn the brotherhood of Christ while hugging tight the failed god of secular humanist internationalism.


--david.davenport.1@netzero.com

11/25/2005 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Brian H said...

There's an SF novel called Wolf Time that posits exactly this kind of mentality, but in the US. Qualification for everything from social benefits to higher education and grades is determined by VP rating ("Victimization Points"), which override and overrule all other considerations. Sociological hyper-relativism Rules!

11/25/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger David Davenport said...

And all we are seeing is the two getting comfortable with this transition to secular/pagan France accompanied by some regrettable incidents; foo foo foo.

Has anyone else commmented on the curious tolerance, or seeming tolerance, for ruining cars during the recent riots? It is almost as if there's a conspiracy to create more demand for Renaults and other fine French four-wheeled products.

-- david.davenport.1@netzero.com

11/25/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

I'm with Desert Rat regarding France...

It is the comming organized and guided Phase II that is of most interest.

How can the leadership of the militant Islamic movement miss this weakness. And this opportunity.

To create a new nation within a nation. To grow and nurture within your adversaries midst. To use their society to implement yours.

I don't think I'll be spending much time in France for the forseable future.

11/25/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Weakness is provocative.

Only a country well practiced at grabbing their ankles would invite/allow/encourage this kind of open disrespect for the things that made this country great:

The meddling starts with Mexico's comic book-style guide to breaching the border safely and evading detection once across.

Mexican consuls routinely denounce U.S. law enforcement efforts against illegal immigration as biased and inhumane.

Back in Mexico, politicians blast any hint that U.S. legislators might obstruct illegals' free pass.
In May, the U.S. Congress passed the Real ID Act, which rendered driver's licenses issued to illegal aliens inadmissible for aircraft boarding and at other federal security checkpoints. Then-Mexican Interior Minister Santiago Creel lashed out. The law, he said, is "absurd; it is not understandable in light of any criteria."

The gall of Mexican officials goes further. After pressing us to educate Mexico's citizens, give them food stamps, deliver their babies, provide them with hospital beds and police their neighborhoods, the Mexican government also expects us to help preserve their loyalty — to Mexico.

The Mexican sixth-grade history book celebrates the troops who fought the Americans during the Mexican-American War. But "all the sacrifices and heroism of the Mexican people were useless," recounts the chronicle. The "Mexican people saw the enemy flag wave at the National Palace." The war's consequences were "disastrous," notes the primer: "To end the occupation, Mexico was obligated to sign the treaty of Guadaloupe-Hidalgo," by which the country lost half its territory to the U.S.

But a student in the U.S. could easily find himself confused about his allegiances. Is his country Mexico or the U.S.? Study exercises that include discovering "what happened to your territory when the U.S. invaded" don't clarify things. The textbook concludes by celebrating Mexican patriotic symbols: the flag, the currency and the national anthem.

The Bush administration winks at such Mexican intrusions with the same insouciance with which it refuses to enforce the immigration laws. The result: an immigration policy that often appears to emanate as much from Mexico City as from Washington.

11/25/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Gabriel Gonzalez,

When the question is asked 'when did another nation emerge within France' the answer might be 'at the moment when white Frenchmen refused to accept immigrants as their equals'. And those who understand that's the situation shouldn't have the slightest desire to move to France, not because they hate it, but because they accept it for what it is. Many nations are as 'racist' as France, except that they don't pretend to be anything else. Few go to Japan with the expectation of becoming Japanese. And as I pointed out elsewhere, nearly half the workforce of Saudi Arabia is foreign without the slightest hope of ever becoming one of the Saudi tribes.

The Left uniquely holds out the visiion of a multicultural society while making it in practice impossible to achieve. And it talks out of both sides of its mouth on a variety of subjects. It demands peace without allowing resistance to aggression; it wants environmental cleanliness and advocates the most wasteful economic models in the next sentence. It promises social security for the aged and offers abortions to the young. So why, in the roots of this riot, should Left play no part?

Come right down to it, the proof that the Left is part of the problem is the observation that it can never be solved while its prescriptions are followed.

11/25/2005 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/25/2005 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

I would agree that the European model is badly flawed, mainly because immigrants are put into sink estates, like those on the outskirts of Paris, and socially/economically ostracized. In England there are Muslim communities in the north of England were many migrants live in a sub-cultural world, often unable to speak english. The U.S. and Canada maodels have been much more successful at integrating new immigrants.

11/25/2005 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard notes,
"the answer might be 'at the moment when white Frenchmen refused to accept immigrants as their equals'."
---
In this country, the malicious effects of the paternalistic attitude of liberals toward "minorities" become ever more apparent.
Using multiculturalism as cover for their programs failings, they continue to contribute to the failures of blacks and others who buy into, or are in some way trapped on the liberal plantation.

On another blog there is currently a post relating to the failure of No Child Left Behind in terms of spending precious resources on unmotivated students at the expense of more gifted or motivated students.

The writer's opinion is that you can't expect improved results despite improvements on the teaching side when students aren't motivated.
Any number of Black Conservatives educated in an earlier time know this is poppycock.
At the schools they attended, unmotivated students weren't cajoled into doing their work:
It was simply DEMANDED of them!
Most students benefited, and those that refused to co-operate were simply removed.
Entertainment venues regularly show a variety of blacks of questionable character, but don't expect to see a conversation between Dr. Walter Williams and his good friend, Dr. Thomas Sowell on Ophra!
Liberals act like such men lost their status as minorities for not being dependent on the Govt's Largess, not to mention openly discussing things from a conservative pov.
The nearly complete blackout on Justice Clarence Thomas is stunning, but predictable.

11/25/2005 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

In Singapore, the government imposes racial quotas in housing estates to ensure that integration happens rather than hoping for it to happen naturally.

It's coercive, it's quite forceful, but our leaders don't offer apologies and state that it's for our own good. They probably reasoned that if we were angry enough, we could always vote them out, and the fact that it didn't happen meant that we just weren't that worked up about it.

And they're right. They almost always are. A multi-cultural society run by engineers. Ideology doesn't enter into the equation. Doesn't matter if it's an idea from the right or the left. If it works, take it. If it doesn't, toss it. Theories and ideas are fine, but they don't matter. Results do. If something works, we take it.

Evolution? Great stuff. We're hoping to pull in more genetists and bio-engineers. If people like sparks_fly don't want 'em due to their support for a 'hackneyed' theory like evolution, we'll take them, and the fruits and money from their work. Abortion? Tough choice, but necessary. If Christians and Catholics don't support it, they can live by it themselves, but they can't force others into their narrow set of beliefs.

We laugh at the French!(and we did) Multi-culturalism can work. You just have to know which buttons to push and when to push them. And have leaders with balls and the brains to push them.

11/26/2005 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

Interesting post Yeo - I agree with your pragmatism and I do think a lot of misplaced idealism and "soft thinking" has resulted in the endemic problems in Europe.

Governments can act with the executive force you are advocating so long as they have the backing of the people. In Europe and N. America unfortunately we have inherited a leftist "bleeding heart" agenda that makes it next-to-impossible for government to undertake the measures you are recommending without being called "fascists" or "nazis".

I generally don't like indulging in stereotypical portrayals of peoples because they are always too general. However, in my view the citizens of Singapore tend to "work with" authority in a much more pragmatic fashion than would ever be the case in Western constituencies that are much more fractitious, with an inclination to place ideology and "rights" agendas ahead of common sense. In the West it's often less a case of "doing the right thing" than "appearing to do the right thing" - and the latter is always open to alteration depending on popularity polls and other politcal considerations.

The points you made are well taken.

11/26/2005 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger David Davenport said...

I would agree that the European model is badly flawed, mainly because immigrants are put into sink estates, like those on the outskirts of Paris, and socially/economically ostracized. ...

Well then, you ought to have more of them living on your street, and attending the same schools your children do.

11/26/2005 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

It can't be reduced to a simple "us versus them" paradigm any longer, reason being that we have moved light years beyond that reality. There are many Muslim citizens in our Western societies who are in every respect "integrated". Many of these people are in business and in the professions ... they are members of our armed forces. In Canada we have a sikh community that is an integral part of our society, a number of them key players in the business community and officers in the RCMP.

I am proud to be a member of a society that is struggling to include peoples of all ethnicities and faiths within a social/political framework that is inclusive.

I agree that in Europe there are radicalized and unassimilated populations of immigrants that are posing an enormous challenge. However it is a mistake to identify these Muslim immigrant peoples with radical Islam of the bin Laden variety and to concoct wild theories that their aim is to create European caliphates etc. This is hysterical and unhinged thinking.

There are some hard core Islamist elements in these Muslim communities that are definitely engaged in this type of jihadist activity, as we have seen with the Madrid and London bombings.

However, a closer and dispassionate analysis of these atrocities makes it clear that the Muslim communities at large were in no way guilty by association. Interviews with English Muslims in the communities in which the young bombers lived, makes it clear that most of those citizens were frankly appalled and ashamed that this action could have been spawned in their midst.

I do agree though that there is a tolerance for Wahhabi teachings in some European mosques, and a culture that tends to cultivate violent ambitions. This is true. However the solution, is not to further marginalize and stigmatize these communities so that they are driven toward violence as a solution. The way forward is to work with the majority of moderate people in these communities and seek to find a way to lessen tensions.

Recently Salman Rushdie called for reform within western Islam, and I completely agree. Muslims living in the West must find a way to reconcile their faith with the democratic societies in which they live. We have a courageous young woman here in Canada named Irshad Manji who has also called for extensive Islamic reform in her writings, and has of course been pilloried by hard line Muslims for speaking out.

This is a work in progress, and those who advocate exclusion and condemnation in response to the problems posed by our immigrant communites, are basically trying to create the conditions for civil strife of the most ugly kind. None of us need this.

Assimilation is happening. Slowly, yes ... but as it continues to make headway, political solutions will be more readily found. In the meantime, confrontational impulses need to be reined in. Christians who seem inclined to make hasty judgements should perhaps reflect on the words of their founder ...

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

11/26/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger David Davenport said...

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

So, it's OK if your daughter marries a Muhammedan?

11/26/2005 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

"The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!"

Shops will be rebuilt. Cars will be replaced. Societal and governmental attitudes will change. Cultures ebb, flow, and adjust.

Violence and upheaval is prevalent throughout the history of countries that subject themselves to the chaos of modern democracy. Its how we adjust and change. It’s painful, but it’s a good thing. When the status quo becomes untenable to a portion of a free society, the “ugly beauty of a free civilization” is that it has mechanisms that “shakes the rug,” and causes transformation.

I hear a lot of American pundits smugly pointing at France and almost gleefully proclaiming, “See!” They ignore that our own past overflows with riots and demonstrations. WE survive it, we change and become the better for it, and France will to.

There are places in the world where the status quo is not allowed to change. There are no safety valves. Those countries lack liberty and the people who suffer under those systems find ways to get to free countries—like the United States and France—WHERE CHANGE IS POSSIBLE.

Calm down Henny, they’ll work it out.

11/26/2005 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

"So, it's OK if your daughter marries a Muhammedan?"

My head of department's a muslim malay, and he married a chinese wife. Apparently her parents thought it was ok.

But then again, he's not a hardline muslim, and his wife is the epitome of the modern working woman with children.

So I think it depends on what sort of Muslim the guy is.

11/26/2005 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger dfp said...

French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut apologizes after death threats

By Daniel Ben-Simon
Last Update: 27/11/2005 01:33

[...]

Thursday, after receiving death threats, the philosopher decided to respond and repent. In an extensive interview in Le Monde yesterday, he said he "despised" the man who appeared in the article (in Le Monde). "He is he and I am I. To my shock, since Wednesday, it appears that he and I share the same name."

Finkielkraut, who went out of his way to praise the immigrants, said his original statements had been an attempt to force the political echelon to take responsibility for what was happening in the poor suburbs. "Integration is our obligation," he said.

Following the apology, lawsuits and police complaints were dropped. But even after his apology, one Jewish organization condemned Finkielkraut, calling him the pyromaniac of the Jewish community.

11/26/2005 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger aidan maconachy said...

Yeo pretty much covered it on the marriage issue. That's my position also.

Would I want my daughter to marry a rabid Wahhabist jihad supporter? No of course not. But then on the other hand I wouldn't be thrilled if she married an ultra nationalist skinhead with a penchant for Doc Martin boots and Nazi tattoos.

Some of the finest people I know are decent, humane and fair minded; a number of these people happen to be Muslim.

11/27/2005 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yeo,
Good to find out you're in Singapore.
The place fascinates me.
Needless to say, the demographics of your city vary immensely from those of the folks being discussed in France.
Both the French and the Immigrants! imo.
Don't the people of Singapore mostly have:
Strong Work Ethics
Strong Cultural/Familial Ties
High Educational Levels
Optimistic Attitudes
etc etc ?
Quite Dynamic and Prosperous, compared w/France in decline.
What I enjoy about the young people's blogs that I have read their is their outspokenness on subjects that are sometimes taboo here.
The ones I've seen openly discuss their prejudices and feelings about prejudiced people, and "others" in general.
They also seem to have a healthy cynicism about some of the Governments Edicts which look great in the abstract, but per usual, reality intervenes.

11/27/2005 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

dfp,
Maybe Larry Summers of Harvard can consul Finkielkraut on the dangers of too much free speech!

11/27/2005 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The meanings of Multicultural in Singapore vs France are impossible to reconcile, far as I can tell.
(Unless you're Kevin:
All things are possible when you exclude reality.)

11/27/2005 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger David Davenport said...

Finkielkraut, who went out of his way to praise the immigrants, said his original statements had been an attempt to force the political echelon to take responsibility for what was happening in the poor suburbs. "Integration is our obligation," he said.

Does Israel also have this obligation, in Herr FinkelKraut's opinon?

11/27/2005 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Netpowersoft said...

You take pleasure in the most twisted things...

keep it up :)

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i am lovin this blog...

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11/28/2005 03:35:00 AM  
Blogger Netpowersoft said...

You take pleasure in the most twisted things...

keep it up :)

hey i am fully agree to what all you have written here ..
i am lovin this blog...

This is looking really nice stuff..
Well you win my heart..


i am lovin this blog...
This is a cool stuff
:)

http://netWallpapers.com

http://tradealoan.com

11/28/2005 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger andresiversen said...

I would like to make a donation but the pen pal is site doesn't seem to understand my intention. Would you mail me better instructions on how I can do this.

In fact I just set up a blog in order to do this and I'm still not sure what will happen next.

12/02/2005 03:36:00 PM  

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