If you follow Memeorandum or other blog aggregator sites you’ve noticed that for the past several days the entire Right Blogosphere has been wallowing in the French riots. Truly, I have never before witnessed such undiluted Schadenfreude. Most people have at least a little twinge of guilt about rejoicing in the misfortune of others, but not our righties. They are rollicking in every fire, every shooting, every broken window. Righties haven’t had this much fun since the Dan Rather smackdown.
The French riots apparently feed into several of their collective detestations–of France, of Muslims, and of socialism. A trifecta! And they can’t let go of it. I thought that when they caught a sniff of Cindy Sheehan in Argentina they’d change course and go howling in that direction. But Sheehan in Argentina barely caused a ripple.
Of course, the truth is that the riots in France were not caused by a failure of “socialism.” Conservatives, not socialists, are in charge of France right now, and awhile back they adopted a hard-right immigration policy that any rightie would love. No multiculturalism allowed; if you live in France, you had better assimilate right now or get bounced. No affirmative action–employers can discriminate against Muslims without penalty. And French schools do not treat all religions equally, but give preferential treatment to Christians.
Today they’ve hit a new low; rightie bloggers are gleefully linking to an article written by an Israeli college professor titled “Got That ‘Ooo La La, Intifada’ Feeling?”
Well, there are very few things as amusing these days as watching the French grapple with their backyard intifada. The suburbs of Paris are now more dangerous than Jenin, and the French are getting their comeuppance for decades of snootiness, for anti-American and anti-Israel agitprop, for decades of cowardice, and especially for the repulsive French love of old Jerry Lewis movies.
That’s sick. Je ne suis pas amusÃ©.
Finally the Left weighs in–Jonathan Miller of Blogoland writes,
For instance, this is just one of many, but InstaPundit links to a blogger who bizarrely declares: “The current intifada in France has stripped the American Left of its second Utopia in a generation. The Left lost its earlier worldly utopia when the Soviet Union fell apart.”
Are they kidding?
As the NYT points out today (and a passage that InstaPundit curiously omits in his linking to the same article) France’s policy towards immigrants is every hard-right, total-assimilationist’s wet dream:
The government has been embarrassed by its inability to quell the disturbances, which have called into question its unique integration model, which discourages recognizing ethnic, religious or cultural differences in favor of French unity. There is no affirmative action, for example, and religious symbols, like the Muslim veil, are banned in schools.
What’s not to love? National unity, denial of heritage, no affirmative action, subjugating ethnicity to the larger state, a “French Identity.” Paging Patrick Buchanan!
Exactly. It isn’t “multiculturalism” that started the riots in France. It was “assimilationism.” Immigrants to France are required to sign a bleeping integration contract that stipulates instruction in the French language and French values. No multiculturalism allowed.
Over at the Peking Duck, we read:
Nothing is more depressing than seeing those on the right jump for joy over the Muslim youths rioting in Paris. They’re thrilled because it confirms how dysfunctional and bad France is, and confirms that Muslims are animals. (For a fine example, head over to this monstrous site — a real “hate site,” and one linked to enthusiastically by InstaPuppy and Michelle Malkin.) It’s depressing because their joy is ill-founded and based on two lies: 1.) that this is part of a worldwide Islamofascist “intifada,” and 2.) that the rioting is due to France’s liberal, multicultural, Muslim-loving tendencies.
Actually, France takes a rather right-wing, Charles Johnsonesque approach to Muslims, isolating them from mainstream society, ghettoizing them and enforcing a unicultural policy. …
…And returing to No. 1, this isn’t about Muslim terrorism. It’s about poor disaffected youth on the fringes of society, warehoused in project housing with no hope and no future. The rioting may be totally wrong and inexcusable, but at least see it for what it is. It is not a 911-like attack, but the result of many years of stigmatization and poverty. First try to understand it, then criticize it. Is that too much to ask?
Yes, it is too much to ask of righties. It would require them to think and learn stuff and all. Too much work. They’d rather fall back on their comfortable old fears, prejudices, and hatreds.
The best short reading of these riots is that they are like the 1960’s race riots in the U.S., as Atrios suggested. The main cause for the riots is in unemployment, poverty and marginalization of the French immigrants and their descendants. The religious angle complicates things, naturally, and makes the chasms in the French society (as well as in the societies of quite a few other European countries) more dangerous to navigate. And as usual, the actual violence also has other elements, from accusations that the police are egging it on to hints that some of the arson is manufactured by drug overlords.
For these reasons I wouldn’t read the events as a clash of religions or civilizations as so many right-wing bloggers do. I think that they are plugging into their own fears and add to that a lot of ignorance about the French political system. For example, it’s the conservatives who are in power in France right now, not some socialists as I have read on the wingnut net.
In short, the French are making most of the same mistakes with immigrant populations that white Americans did with African American populations, and with many of the same results–ghettoization, poverty, and now violence. Same old, same old. France isn’t experiencing “l’intifada.” It’s experiencing “Les Watts.”
Update: Steve Gilliard writes,
Any African American who doesn’t find this familiar would be lying. The death of the two kids was a charge on long simmering feelings of anger at the police, which is mostly white and French. Sarkozy should put down the Giuliani bio and listen. Order has to be restored, but this will happen again unless real change takes place.
You shouldn’t have to lose your culture to be French. That was the same crap the French did in the colonies: be French, but get treated like niggers.
When people who play within the system still aren’t treated fairly, eventually someone will strike back at the system.