Democrat From Kentucky

Democrat from Kentucky
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Consensus with a Republican on France? Oiu! Friday, November 11, 2005

OK, I’m staunchly Democrat in a lot of ways, but have never been afraid to admit that some Republicans occasional speak sense. McCain springs to mind immediately. I often visit the National Review Online, to keep up with our opposition. The below quoted article caught my eye, because it’s basic idea can be looked at not merely in regards to France, but for Iraq, in fact, for the Muslim world in general. I will not say that ALL Muslims are raging fanatics, wanting to kill all Christians. I will say, that that faction is the one we unfortunately see the most. I suppose it’s rather like the true Christians of America, having the origin ideas of Christianity as a religion of love & Peace, being ‘Hijacked’ by Pat Robertson.
Mr. Jonah Goldberg (The name inspires certain ideas to start with) has written an interesting bit of thought on the current French problems. I’m not a Francophile, by a long stretch, and, like Mr. Goldberg, do see a certain degree in dark humor in this. Like Mr. Goldberg, though, I also believe this is not an issue of ‘Islam’. This is an issue of repressed and disenfranchised minority. It is easy to stick a label of “Muslim Terrorist” on them and leave it at that. The radical Islamic factions would love it. America’s current leadership would love it. In one easy step, they suddenly preempt a small army and America’s leaders can find yet another reason to ignore France’s opinions.
In America, a small but vocal, religious right has claimed to be the voice of a much larger group. They gained power far beyond their actual control. The Islamic radicals would love a similar coup. For the most part, these are unhappy kids. If you start telling them they do this for Islam, many will believe it. They are currently without leadership. If France speaks to them as a disenfranchised French minority, then they will respond as such. Speak to them of change as French citizens and they will respond as such. Speak to them as Islamic Terrorist and expect them to begin Jihad. As much as we like to say we are our own people, Society tells us what we are.

Jonah Goldberg
November 11, 2005, 8:18 a.m.
Trouble in Gaulistan
Les Muslimerables? No. Les Invisibles

I tried. I really did. I wanted to deal dispassionately with l'affaire francaise. I even resolved to refrain, until my Schadenfreude wore off, from commenting on the situation in the country formerly known as "France." (Possible future names include: Paristine, Gaulistan, Frarabia, and the Algerian North Bank.)
Schadenfreude is a German word meaning to take pleasure at the misfortune of others. And much like La Resistance in '40 (and '41, '42, '43, '44 and '45), I just can't shake off the Germans in this case. Since my Schadenfreude seems inextricably linked to the duration of the French intifada, I can't wait any longer. After all, the troubles promise to go on long enough for the French to lobby the International Olympic Committee to add the "Peugeot Burn" to the summer games.
To be fair, which I have not been so far, I don't actually believe the current riots are about Islam. This puts me to the left of a great many conservative Nostradamuses who've prophesized for so long that France's north African and other Muslim "immigrants" are going to bring jihad to the home front. I don't think their predictions are necessarily wrong, I just believe that this is at best a dress rehearsal.
I put "immigrants" in quotation marks for the simple reason that most of the rioters are no such thing — they were born in France and hold French passports. Their parents or grandparents were from former French colonies. But the French establishment — a term I use in the most catholic sense possible, so as to include Katie Couric and her colleagues — has had a very hard time coming up with a useful vocabulary to describe these events. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy came out of the blocks with "scum," but the uncharacteristic lack of nuance didn't go over well in a culture that has always believed there are two sides of the story for every murderer, never mind every window smasher.
We seem to have settled on "youths," which is as correct as "Muslims" and marginally more accurate than "immigrants," but it will hardly do. It's not as if airport screeners are going to keep a keener eye on young, blond Frenchmen named Jacques because a bunch of guys named Abdul and Hamid looted the local brasserie. And then there's the fact that these "youths" show no signs of being particularly pious Muslims. I don't mean to say that a devout Muslim would never break the peace — I think that theory has been sufficiently falsified in recent years so as to be inoperative, no?
Rather, these "youths" appear to be closer to nothing than they do to a specific something — except, of course, rioters. It is in the rioting that these kids get meaning. Rioting is how they appear on the Gallic radar system. They aren't Les Muslimerables so much as Les Invisibles.
The Islamic leadership in France would clearly and dearly love this to be a Muslim riot. They could then stop it and become true Left Bank Arafats, able to fire up a rent-a-mob whenever convenient and thereby shake down the government for one concession after another. That's why the French government is so desperate to prevent the imams from becoming middlemen. If the riots are stopped by Islamic clerics, they will become Islamic riots — even though they didn't start as that. And once the conflict is Islamified, the conservative Nostradamus scenarios kick in and we can all get ready for talk of "two-state solutions," the need to make Paris an "international city," and so forth.
Their being Muslim surely contributes to these kids' invisibility, but French racism and snobbery is more sweeping. Unlike in America, where snobbery, racism and anti-Muslim bigotry can all operate independently of each other, in France they're always linked in a menage a trios. If a resume arrives at the patisserie with the name Hamid on it, it gets trashed without the recipient wondering whether he was unfair to a Muslim, a black, an immigrant or even a French citizen.
But this type of young person is invisible for another reason. The French "social model" which pays wealthy, educated people not to work much — and prevents poor and desperate ones from working at all — simply has no solution for what to do with these surplus Frenchmen. So they get shunted off to the Islamic Bantustans surrounding the capital, where social pathologies fester.
Unfortunately, France is more likely to embrace Velveeta as the national cheese than to fix this system, and that spells long-term disaster for the country. Sarkozy had the right idea calling the rioters scum — not only because rioters tend to be exactly that, but also because calling them much of anything else would have politicized the rioters into "rebels." The long-term problem is that if you treat people like scum long enough, they'll become rebels. And that's when the battle for Gaulistan will truly begin.

posted by Greymagius @ 10:56 AM

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Location: Harrodsburg, Kentucky, United States

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