Monday, November 07, 2005

The French riots: A series of inflammatory statements 

After digesting the reports from France during the last 11 days, I thought it would be useful to write down my thoughts in the form of a laundry list of statements that I believe are true. Some of them, perhaps all of them, are undoubtedly inflammatory, but everything about these riots is inflammatory.

1. The Muslims of France are there by choice. Not only are many of them immigrants from elsewhere, but once in the European Union they are free to live and work anywhere.

2. Whatever the discrimination against Muslims in France, it has apparently not motivated them to move elsewhere. Presumably, that is because they are either incompetent to decide to move and act upon it, or they have decided that notwithstanding all its shortcomings France is the best place to live.

3. Many of these Muslims are unemployed. This is not surprising, because many people in France are unemployed, whether Muslim or otherwise. This is because France imposes many burdens on employers that discourage them from hiring people. Don't argue with me on this point -- unlike most topics that I write about, I actually know something about employing people in France.

4. This fact of unemployment does not mean that these Muslims are without economic opportunity, as has been often alleged in the press. There are at least three options available to unemployed people. First, they can take jobs that nobody else wants, endure some indignities, save their money, and bootstrap their way up. Lots of people the world over do this. Second, they can start a business. Third, they can migrate, which is what all mobile species do when the conditions in any particular location turn against survival.

5. Nobody in France seems to have connected that nation's burdensome employment regulation with the high rate of unemployment among Muslims. Or, if somebody has, the English language press has not reported it.

6. The mainstream media's desire to avoid discussing the religion of the rioters is remarkable. Eleven days into the rioting, one needs to get to the 13th paragraph in the Associated Press's lead article this morning to see the word "Muslim," and then in connection with a report that France's "biggest Muslim fundamentalist organization" has issued a fatwa against those "who seek divine grace from taking part in any action that blindly strikes private or public property or can harm others." LGF readers are undoubtedly parsing the fatwa to find the loopholes.

7. I'm not sure that it is entirely a bad thing that the media is playing down the fact that the rioters are Muslims. Yes, it does reveal a set of assumptions in the MSM that is very unfortunate in many other contexts. In this explosive situation, though, we don't want to turn the responsible Muslims of France -- and there are surely a great many -- into targets when the counterattack begins. That would radicalize a lot of basically moderate Muslims, which we do not need.

8. The shooting war began last night. A couple of cops were hit by birdshot, the first known casualties from firearms in 11 days of severe rioting. At the risk of irritating Dave Kopel and Glenn Reynolds, it is a fair bet that there would have been a lot more shooting a lot earlier and with far more potent weapons if French ghettos enjoyed American rates of gun ownership. For countless reasons, this is not an argument for more intense gun regulation in the United States, but I'm guessing that France's police are pretty happy that most of these thugs aren't armed.

9. There is obvious schadenfreude coursing through the right-wing blogosphere, which has never been a hotbed of Francophilia. Don't even bother denying it. This reaction is misplaced, however, because these riots have the real potential to metastasize into a defeat in the war on terror. This is bad for everybody. Even if it does mean that Americans will be able to go a decade or so without having to endure sanctimonious lectures about our racist society. Which will be huge.

10. Against all odds, I have yet to see a press account or even a blog allegation that these riots are George Bush's fault. Even more amazingly, nobody has yet thought to blame Israel. France's long record opposing both has innoculated the usual villains, which probably explains why the press has been groping for somebody else to blame. Apparently that person is Nicolas Sarkozy, who may possibly regret referring to these "youths" as riff-raff. Or rabble. Or "scum." Or whatever racaille means in the English. Even if a lot French voters agree with him.

11. You have to figure that automobile insurance rates in France are going up quickly.

UPDATE: I forgot one, which is perhaps the most important.

12. France invented revolution and counterrevolution. It knows how to cope with riots, barricades, and social unrest. As Theodore Dalrymple wrote in this morning's must-read op-ed:
If push were ever to come to shove, the trains to the townships could be turned off, assuming they were not wrecked first by the inhabitants themselves, and the roads to the center of Paris (and other towns and cities) could be blocked with a few armored cars or a couple of tanks. A state of emergency could be declared, after which the CRS [the Compagnies Republicaines de Securité - ed.] could go about its business in all calmness and serenity. The left would squeal and protest a bit, but secretly be relieved that, thanks to the CRS, the labor laws protecting their voters did not have to be changed after all, with the consequent introduction of "savage liberalism" into France.

France will survive.

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon, one of the few Francophile bloguers (however well hidden -- I can tell you like France, Roger!) on the right, has been writing on the riots at length. Go to his blog and start scrolling.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 07, 08:51:00 AM:

"Whatever the discrimination against Muslims in France, it has apparently not motivated them to move elsewhere."_____Language would be a problem - there is not much demand for French-speaking workers elsewhere in Europe.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 07, 08:51:00 AM:


You mentioned Israel in your post, and the one irony that isn't lost on me is how the French have sided with the Palestinians and those who excoriate Israel for the way the "refugee camps" exist in the West Bank -- as a separate, second-class society and yet have similar problems in their own back yard (I write this from a "French" vantage point, as I take the Israelis' side in the Palestinian conflict). Do you see any irony in the fact that the troubles in France come from French ghettoes, which are populated by people who are not ethnically French? How do the French left reconcile the position on the Palestinian conflict with their position at home? Dalrymple doesn't address this point directly, but you can draw an inference that they can't because they don't want to do anything to improve the situation, just to have it go away. Unfortunately, the riots in the Parisian suburbs, to an extent, expose the French school of political thought for what it is -- a bunch of elitists who like to tell others how they should live without practicing the same principles at home.

The Centrist  

By Blogger joated, at Mon Nov 07, 09:00:00 AM:

I wonder, if the French did enjoy the gun ownership rights we have in the US, would these thugs still be roaming the streets given the police/government's lack of action or would the law abiding citizenry take action?  

By Blogger dave in boca, at Mon Nov 07, 12:34:00 PM:

The French gendarmerie do not seem to have helicopters or a lot of equipment SWAT teams here in the US have routinely.

That means calling out the CRS, as Dalyrymple notes in his comments.

Ted D. is the best expert from the British perspective.

It is clear that the elitist charlatans like Chirac and de Villepin actually believe their utopian social model would not produce such anarchy.

The French have been delusional for so long about their superiority, they truly must be reeled back to reality by violence across their beautiful pays.

Remember the old French proverb:
"A bon chat, bon rat!"

In other words, you have to compete to survive.

No more 35-hour work weeks, perhaps! What will the MSM in this country use as a foil for bashing Bush now that his biggest nemesis flounders in disarray?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Nov 07, 12:39:00 PM:

All good points, Dave in Boca. Thank you as well for confirming my sense that there is beaucoup de schadenfreude on the right! :)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 07, 10:46:00 PM:

It's important to separate the feelings of the French public from those of the political elites who run France, the Enarques. I suspect they are vastly different. Americans often forget that France is run by a political elite that does not answer to the public. One of the reasons Sarkozy has had so many problems from Chirac and de Villepin is that he isn't an Enarque.

And Tiger, I'm thinking it's less schadenfreude that some Americans are feeling than it is hope that the French elite will finally be jarred to their senses on the matter of appeasement. You can't appease islamo-fascists, even trying to just makes them angrier. The fact is, if the French elites suddenly realized that they DO have to actually fight terror, even outside of France, rather than simply sit back and let others do it, while whining about it themselves, the US would welcome them to the community of peaceful, responsible nations. Even after all France has done to keep itself OUT of that club.

There is also hope that the French elite will recognize that keeping such a large percentage of immigrant young men unemployed is terribly dangerous.

I do think there is some sense of schadenfreude though in remembering howls of French warning that the Arab street would explode if the coalition went into Iraq. They were right, they just did not expect it to be the Arab street in France.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Nov 08, 06:09:00 AM:

Avaroo, thank you for the helpful comments. The only qualifier I might add is that the French are, by all accounts, quite helpful in the war on terror to the extent that it is a police function (indeed, it is mostly a police function). But I also agree that a little less "tolerance" on the part of the French elites would go a long way.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Nov 08, 08:58:00 AM:

> 10. Against all odds, I have yet to see
> a press account or even a blog
> allegation that these riots are George
> Bush's fault.

There's a couple of claims at the Daily Kos, and, of course, there's always the dependable Liberal Larry at:


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 09, 08:07:00 PM:

Tiger, I agree, the French do see terror as a police matter, but that viewpoint allows them to avoid considering the option of joining the civilized world in fighting terror OUTSIDE of France. The French, if they are truly as civilized as they like to claim, should be just as upset about terror that occurs in Indonesia, Turkey or Jordan, as we've seen today, as they are about possible terror acts inside France. Currently, they are not; they could care less about terror acts outside of France. Perhaps that will now change. If it does, then maybe some good will come out of the current unrest in France.  

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