Reaction inside and outisde, to French riots

I’ve been surfing a lot this evening looking at various reactions and opinions on the current events in France.

There is a ton of it out there, and plenty of theories on what’s going on and why its’ happening.

First… on the Academic side… Global Guerrillas calls this another front in Open Source Warfare:

Here’s some more brainstorming on this important question: Will the violence continue? Probably, despite indications that it has subsided. The open source war is moving under its own momentum now (the participants in Paris are likely just dead tired and the collective thinking of the community was to rest). …. The only solution… will be the broad use of the military to restore order. …. The use of the military, when taken, will shut down the insurgency for now. However, the presence of troops in the banlieue will be a source of provocation that will continue to fuel future efforts.

I suspect that at some point during this future conflict, France will come to rely upon empowered, local Islamic militias to maintain order in the banlieue. However, the ceding of authority to those militias will be exactly the type of autonomy that this was about in the first place. France will have fragmented.

Next an account from an eyewitness (thus a French citizen).. translated to English here.

Why did the Minister of the Interrior make a point of saying that these events took place following an attempted theft? Doubtless, he wanted to play on the fantastic and disastrous idea that people have of the “suburbs,” an idea that he himself helps to spread. …. Throughout these events the agents of the State have acted as if they were in a civil war.
In an egalitarian society this would have been unthinkable. When the Minister of the Interior sets the example by lying, one sees no reason why his subordinates should not follow suit. So a police officer goes an the radio and says that no tear gas was used against the mosque, that in fact it was the demonstrators who used “pepper spray grenades”, and that this is what stung some peoples’ eyes. Just like his boss knew full well that there had been no theft, this cop was fully aware of what we all learnt later on, namely that they were in fact tear gas grenades from the police that were used.

They got to see the children running scared while their mothers, trying to protect them, were called “whores” and chased down the stairs by the Mr Sarkozy’s soldiers.

The CRS, the afore mentioned “Mr Sarkozy’s soldiers” are a truly frightening lot. I had the opportunity to see them once when I was in Courseilles-Sur-Mer on the day-before-DDay celebrations in 2003. They were there to guard the French Prime Minister from planned protests and other dignitaries. I have seen policemen with machine guns. I have seen soldiers in combat gear… But these CRS are what I would imagine Nazi SS troops to have looked like. They ride in black buses. They march with tall black boots. And when you lift your camera to take a picture (like I did) they simply wag their finger at you.

And finally… another perspective. A different one. And it’s in French this time, so I will attempt to translate. If you see any glaring errors in my translation please point them out. I will do my best to reflect the correct tone of the comments as I read them.

I’ll provide the French source… and then my translation:

Que le gouvernement de la France, les autorités les plus hautes seraient responsables de tout cela ? Et puis quoi encore ! ? Responsable de quoi ? Si des voyous meurent électrocutés, tant mieux ! On ne va pas se plaindre ! Il faut se plaindre qu’une femme handicapée ait été brûlée vive par des voyous, qu’un homme ait été tué en plein jour par un gang d’hyènes, plutôt !

That the government of France, that those at the highest level of authoriy could be responsible for all this? What then? Responsible for what? If some [derogatory slang for– “youths”?] die of electrocution, all the better! We won’t complain! We should instead be complaining that a disabled woman was burned alive by the youths, that a man was even killed in broad daylight by a gang of hyenas [obbvious African connotation here]!

Il y a des Français pauvres. Il y a des Catholiques, des Protestants, des Orthodoxes, des Juifs, des Musulmans pauvres en France. Est-ce qu’ils tuent tous des femmes handicapées en tentant de les brûler vives ? … Non. Ils souffrent en silence, ils tentent de survivre, ils tentent de travailler, ils tentent de vivre en personnes respectueuses de la loi civile comme de la loi religieuse, s’ils ont une religion.

There are poor French people. There are Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jew and Musim poor in France. Do they kill disabled women by burning them alive? No, they suffer in silence, they try to survive, work and live as people respectfl of civil law, as they do under religious law, if they have a religion.

Alors comment définir ces nouveaux barbares qui haussent la tête un peu trop ces jours-ci ? Eh bien c’est très simple : ce ne sont ni des Français, ni des hommes religieux ou non, ni des citoyens éduqués ou non. Ce sont des animaux et il faut les traiter comme tels. Ils se sont rabaissés eux-mêmes au rang animal qu’on s’évertue à leur faire abandonner en vain. Ils préfèrent vendre de la drogue, constituer des gangs que de travailler ou que de tenter de travailler. Ils préfèrent brûler des voitures que d’aller en usine en fabriquer sur les chaînes de montage. Ils préfèrent tuer que d’aider les leurs à vivre. Ils n’ont pas de raison de se révolter : ils sont mauvais. Ils font le mal en connaissance de cause, d’une manière bestiale et grégaire. Ces nouveaux barbares défigurent les cités qu’ils habitent et y propagent le mal. Il faut les en extirper et nous en débarrasser une bonne fois pour toutes. Les autres habitants de ces cités pourront respirer tranquillement demain.

So how do we define these new barbarians that are rearing their heads a little too high these days? Well, it’s quite simple… they are neither French, nor men of religion, and no, their not educated citizens either. They are animals and they must be treated as such. They have lowered themselves to the status of animal… and its’ on us [???] to force them to abandon it in vain… They prefer dealing drugs, and mixing with gangs rather than workin or even thinking of working. They would rather burn cars than go to a factory to work on the assembly line. They prefer killing to helping their own to live. They have no reason to revote, they’re rotten. They have agretiously and brutally failed to undertand their cause. These new barbarians are disfiguring the cities in which they live and they breed violence. They must be eradicated and we must do it for the betterment of all [??]. The other inhabitants of these cities will be able to breathe easier tomorrow.

Ok, I think you get the idea.. and my brain hurts.

Plenty to think about there. Comments encouraged and welcomed. Whatever you think is the cause, or the cure, it seems that what is happening today in France may be only a sign of things to come if *something* does not change.

5 thoughts on “Reaction inside and outisde, to French riots”

  1. There are those of us who have been attending demonstrations against the ‘current economic order’ for a long time now, who have always believed that something had to change. We’re, needless to say, going in the wrong direction, and eventually, a point is reached where ‘grinning and bearing it’ and working as a temp with no benefits and no security isn’t going to cut it anymore, or in the case of these folks, simply looking ahead to no job at all in an economy that’s hostile to even their application for one. ‘work in a factory on the assembly line?’ Who is this asshole kidding? In an economy where manufacturing has inverted from more than seventy to less than twenty precent of all jobs available? Where do these people think the jobs are? There just aren’t any careers for young people, let alone for young visible immigrants!

    Unfortunately, it looks like we all supposed it would, and that makes everyone look bad. A lot of people thought it would start with young, disenfranchised people from the lowest rungs getting fed up and starting rioting. Remember Watts? Was anything solved by blaming the neighbourhoods? Those people had no futures! Sarkozy had better be careful, or he could be sitting on the trigger of a lot more than France.

  2. thanks for the comment Wil… sorry for your comment not going up right away, first-time comments get automatically moderated.

    You’re absolutely right. When you combine decades of discrimination with no viable working alternatives then you eventually get to frustration. These riots have nothing to do with religion.. religion is simply a soft spot… a common place that people can use to intimidate and/or rally other.

    There are going to be lots of flowery words from French politicians about The Republic and Liberty Fraternity and Egality… but in reality France and indeed the globalising world has become over the past 30 years.. much less equal and much less fraternal.

    It’s all about doing only what’s best for you.. rather than what is best for the whole.

    What people fail to realise.. and corporations especially.. is that what is better for the whole truly is better for the individual… it looks like we will now be learning this the hard way.

  3. This is an economic and a cultural issue and yes, religion, as a cultural factor is a part of the trouble. It doesn’t have to be but in some places in Europe (think Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, France and other places) the citizens line up on the side of the religion they adhere to and develop political cohesion around that factor. The Catholics in No Ireland claim discrimination by the Protestants and the Protestants are determined not to allow the Irish Catholics to take over there small piece of the island. The result, 30 – 40 years of terrorism, violence and political polarization. And now that same tribal type of human loyalties and competition is emerging in France.

    Anyway, France’s first mistake (as most European countries have made) is to emphasize multi-culturalism for the last 30 years instead of assimilation. The result is an alienated, de facto segregated, almost unreachable angry group of young energetic and violent people who, like many youth gangs, depend on each other, are loyal to their own “tribe” and hate and fear most outsiders. I have been reading forecasts for the last two years of this exact scenario – particularly for France since the Muslim minority is so large and entrenched in that country. The Islamic immigrants have not become French. They merely speak the language. This rebellion was not unexpected by outside observers. Eurabia and the potential ethnic division is a known element and ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away.

    As far as jobs go, the world is in the throes of an unstoppable sea change in an emerging globalization. All the protests, all the unions, all the pols promises, all the laws passed and all the outrage is not going to stop the force of competition from the developing nations. Those countries such as the US, Canada, Europe and Japan who have had the lions share of the world’s wealth for 500 centuries are no more going to stop this than we will all sprout wings and fly. A 100 years ago the powerful nations of the world adapted to the industrial revolution and changed their economies accordingly from an agrarian to an industrialized source of wealth. Economic rivalries produces the Franco-Prussian War in 1870s, WWI and WWII and the cold war as well

    No system is perfect or necessarily perfect. The portion of the world that has remained in poverty during the 20th century is now challenging that old order. And war has not left us. Asia will prosper through competition but if not, then wars will once again be fought but on pretexts not related to economic competition.
    The pretexts for war in this century will be deeply dependent on religious loyalties. In reality, economic growth and superiortiy will be the underlying cause.

  4. “Anyway, France’s first mistake (as most European countries have made) is to emphasize multi-culturalism for the last 30 years instead of assimilation.”

    Actually.. my interpretation has been that while Europeans have emphasized multiculturalism verbally, they have not really followed through. And in France especially their colonial past in North Africa has led to a simmering detente between the two cultures. So instead of a truly multicultural France, we have a France that likes to think of itself as multicultural and accepting but in reality does little to help integrate immigrants as productive members of their society…. they’ve simply used them as cheap labour (when that cheap labour was most needed 30 years ago) and now forgotten about them and done nothing to change the attitudes of what seems to be the majority who think that North Africans/Muslims can not hold a “real” job.

    I’ve actually had people on other blogs (the Canadian right-wing, “Shotgun” Western Standard blog specifically) in the past few days tell me that Muslims, North Africans and Africans in general can’t get jobs because they don’t *want* an education… they aren’t motivated to get an education and a good job. Not like Asians and Indians in Canada who are much more business oriented and entreprenurial.

    When I threw out a couple names like Condi Rice and Colin Powell (and Muhammed Ali comes to mind as well) I was told these were “exceptions, certainly not the rule”.

    I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It’s as if now that Rosa Parks has passed away all the progress that’s been made is suddenly forgotten.. or perhaps it was just never learnt by some.

  5. Well I certainly don’t agree with those that believe that Muslims, North African or Africans in general don’t want education and a better life or are inherently incapable of achieving a decent life any more than I agree with the French person who called them barbarians and animals.

    That kind of viewpoint comes from a lack of intelligence and a mental laziness. It’s too much trouble for such individuals to contemplate the development of new policies and analysis of peoples attitudes who are different from the general…negative stereotypical automatic and hateful attitudes. (Sort of the way some people view Christians or red state conservatives) 🙂 and make the kinds of sacrifices and changes necessary to effect changes for the better. The real obstacle is basically one of selfishness on the part of the majority on a broad spectrum.

    And, yes I agree also with your comments, Chris except I don’t believe we both define multi-culturalism the same way. What you call multi-culturalism, I would call assimulation. We have many ethnic groups in the US who are still very tied to their ethnicity but have been assimulated economically and socially into the mainstream. To achieve middle-class in the US and Canada is entirely possible for immigrants.

    But the Europeans by and large give only lip service to any attempt to reach out to those who are different from the majority and have only in the long run exacerbated the problem. Europe is steeped in national identities in a densly populated geographic area. The worst possible policy any government can have regarding ethnic minority groups is to promise a lot and deliver nothing…equivalent to sticking one’s head in the proberbial sand and holds true for many other types of problems in society especially economic.

    However, it should be noted that these French Muslim youth have been educated and are receiving a rather generous stipend as unemployed French citizens are entitled to. They aren’t starving and they aren’t homeless. I do believe that they are discriminated against and are treated poorly by the French police who have a reputation for heavy handedness (yes, I know – so do many American policy forces). Sad to say but their militancy is probably going to give them the reaction from French authorities that they want whether they eventually become assimulated or not. The government of any nation can not govern without the consent of the governed so the French will do what they have to to make this problem subside. Unfortunately, I have no faith that they will actually solve any of the problems facing France at the moment.

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