Melting pot v. bouillabaisse

There’s so much irony in The Times of London’s coverage of the French riots.

America was supposed to be the melting pot — when I was raised, color-blindness was a would-be national virtue — but instead we’ve become a multicultural chunky chicken pot pie, where everyone except for ethnically indeterminate products of the cultural crockpot (like me) maintains some measure of ethnic identity.

France, meanwhile, was supposed to be protecting its culture, so it tried to be a melting pot by having immigrants assimilate.

Now The Times says France’s “colour-blind policy has fed Muslim radicalism.” The implication is that melting pots are bad but a culture bouillabaisse is good. File that under failed policies with separate-but-equal and racial quotas. And add in France’s policy of not allowing religious headgear, which many of us in America took to be a sign of intolerance (and French critics criticized us for that at the time). Even The Times ends up confused in this house of cultural mirrors:

Under the ethnically colour-blind “French model”, the immigrant workers who came in the 1950s and 1960s from the former colonies in North and black Africa were to be regarded as equal citizens. They and their descendants would take advantage of the education system and generous welfare state to assimilate with “white” France. To promote the idea of assimilation, neither the State nor any other body publishes statistics on ethnic or national origin.

In practice, France turned its back on the minorities, shunting them into suburban cités denying access to the so-called ascenseur social (social elevator) that was supposed to lift immigrants into the mainstream. Unemployment on the estates is up to three times the 10 per cent national average. Laws supposed to promote integration and oppose multiculturalism, such as the ban on Muslim headwear in schools, have often heightened resentment and the feeling of exclusion. This has in turn fed the rise of Muslim radicalism, which has now become the dominant creed of the young in the French ghettos.

France has always deemed its model superior to the Anglo-Saxon approach of diversity, which has enabled ethnic minorities to retain strong bonds in cultural and religious communities. France calls this “comunitarism” and says that it promotes ghettos, exclusion, poverty, race riots and religious extremism that can ultimately lead to actions such as the London bombings.

Three decades on from the big inflow of immigrants, everyone now agrees that the French model has not worked, although almost no one says that the American and British approach has produced better results.

And as I heard on Brian Lehrer’s show last week (I think), a caller said it’s not right to call the rioters “immigrants” since many are second- and third-generation. They are now French. But they are, indeed, unassimilated and unwelcome. Could it just be that the French are snobs? Well, yes, and that’s not as snobbish of me as it sounds. I’ve known Americans who’ve lived in France for decades who were seen as outsiders. That’s the way France has always been, no? But prejudice is prejudice and poverty is poverty, no matter. So perhaps we’re seeing a condensed and delayed version of America’s ethnic strife: minorities are mistreated and then there are ineffective or insincere efforts at assimilation and then the minorities revolt. Is France facing its ’60s? Is Paris burning? Will Europe? And why is America still being painted as the only bad guy in the Muslim worldview? Let’s also not forget France’s own problems with 19th-century globalism and Europe’s own problems with 20-th century ethnic tolerance. In none of this am I nya-nyaing France for its problems; they are too serious. And they, like our problems, are far from simple.

  • Paull

    As I heard singer Michael Franti of Spearhead once say (ok, I actually will paraphrase) : “Melting pot? Naah, my tastebuds prefer a fruitsalad, together a wonderful combination but still with distinct pieces of fruit.

  • Jeff, you write:

    Could it just be that the French are snobs? Well, yes, and that’s not as snobbish of me as it sounds. I’ve known Americans who’ve lived in France for decades who were seen as outsiders. That’s the way France has always been, no?

    You do know that the same could be said in millions of pockets throughout the U.S.? I really don’t think this issue is unique to France, or the U.S. Maybe it flourishes in certain large societies, and is squashed in others. But France is not alone.

  • Jill: Yes, I agree; it may be the nature of things. Maybe not.

  • The nature of the individual cultures, I would posit, and their tradition of how they deal with other cultures. If a society doesn’t through and through support, promote or desire the melting, it won’t happen. And there are many good reasons for individual cultures or ethnicities to want to retain what’s unique.

    The trick, no surprise, is in the balance. I just don’t know enough about enough different countries – is there even one that people believe represents a satisfactory balance between acceptance in the society while still maintaining a distinct identity that doesn’t instigate negative treatment?

  • Size does matter. France is slightly less than twice the size of Colorado. Imagine if six million unassimilated, welfare-dependent Muslims lived in the Colorado Rockies area.

    Our racial violence is tempered by dilution and assimilation–at least, the pattern of assimilation before multicultural doctrine. In California we have many other-than-American enclaves and they inevitably fail, because of economic competition and other cultural realities. You cannot preserve a separate but equal culture within another. At some point you must do business with and engage the mainstream language and customs and laws. CA is at the tipping point. I don’t think there will be intafada-type violence but we do have some tough decisions to make.

  • Ravo

    “And without question, the burden of assimilating into a new culture falls on the immigrant, who chose to join it, after all. If you don’t like Western civilization, by all means, take the next plane home.” …quote unknown

    They are very mobile, in cars or scooters, communicating with cell phones.

    So poor…so disadvantaged…

    Institutionalized racism is a wonderful thing. It can never be disproved and can be used as an excuse for any behavior.


    These are terrorist cells.

  • For all the news about the number of cars on fire and racism it seems like the economics are overlooked. These people just want jobs. There’s a video on interviewing the rioters where they point out that they’re angry because they can’t find work. Some of it is due to racism but much of it is because of the 10% unemployment that affects the entire country.

    The left is calling this a mis-implementation of Socialism. It’s not far enough left apparently. Is it possible that Socialists will finally consider the possiblity that the high unemployment which is fueling the rage is caused by high taxes and regulations? I highly doubt it which is why people like Thomas Freidman have said Europe will be the equivalent of a museum in the near future.

    Some on the right almost seem happy about this but this is not good for America. If western Europe could jettison it’s archaic economic theories and get their growth in gear they would have more money to buy American products. It’s not a zero sum game, we all lose.

  • Ravo, I’m trying to picture the terrorist camp where these 13 year old kids on scooters were trained. Did they put on knobby wheels and ride into the mountains of Afghanistan?

    This is bad parenting on a national scale. You can’t just throw lots of money at your kids, ignore them and hope that they magically become well adjusted. That’s what France is doing and that’s the logic behind socialism. It doesn’t work in either case.

  • Ravo

    Perhaps the same way six year olds are trained to wear bombs.

    Many parents of these kids have NEVER had a job, from birth to now. Nor are they looking for them. Many Muslims feel themselves superior to manual labor.

    In a training manual on terrorism found some years ago, there were clear instructions on immigrating and taking advantage of the host country for education and welfare.

    Increasing their population in other countries is the goal.

    It seems these areas have followed those instructions to a t.

  • These people just want jobs. There’s a video on interviewing the rioters where they point out that they’re angry because they can’t find work.

    Ravo, I’m trying to picture the terrorist camp where these 13 year old kids on scooters were trained.

    While on camera, did they mention their bomb making factory? Did they mention (as some have alleged) the turf wars between gangs? The drugs? Did they mention their cars and scooters and cell phones and computers? Did they mention France’s massive welfare state? Did they mention why thirteen year olds are concerned about the unemployment rate?

    There are any number of things that rioters aren’t going to tell CNN’s cameras. It’s a little naive to blythely accept the word of the rioters.

    The “assimilation” into French society line may turn out to be incorrect, as well. There are experts starting to make the rounds pointing out that the French government has effectively done the exact opposite with many Muslim communities, and promised Muslim leaders abroad (in exchange for promises of peace) that they would allow many of these Muslim precincts to be left alone entirely, to be effectively little isolationist nations within France… which explains why the French police haven’t been in some of these neighborhoods in years.

    But apparently simply having little nations inside of France isn’t enough. If these experts are correct (time will tell if they are), this really may just be the tip of a civil war iceberg for Europe.

  • Ravo

    In the US, those that manage to get the education part, are instructed to

    “Acquire government positions, get membership in local school boards. Train Muslims as medical doctors to dominate the medical field, research and pharmaceutical companies. Take over the computer industry. Establish Middle Eastern restaurants throughout the U.S. to connect planners of Islamization in a discreet way. Ever notice how numerous Muslim doctors in America are, when their countries need them more desperately than America? “

  • Eileen

    It’s pretty obvious one doesn’t need to travel to Afghanistan to be schooled in how to make molotov cocktails, or how to use text messaging, or how to throw rocks, or how to jump in and out of cars and torch things or people, KirkH.

    They are also burning Berlin, Bremen and Brussels …as well as small towns in Denmark.

    As one who is interested in ‘back watching’, may I suggest Jeff watch his own in Munich.

    Islam doesn’t ever allow ‘real’ assimilation, only the appearance of it on the road to establishing sharia law and the caliphate. Any multiculti issues are therefore overshadowed by that basic fact.

    The police in France are now calling it a civil war; the M word terrorists are shouting jihad.

    On the issue of snobbery, I lived just outside Paris for a year and my experience was one of absolute inclusion and welcome from start to finish. We Americans mistake French pride for snobbery. As someone who adores their food, language and art, I think they’re entitled to their cultural pride. I’ve lived in many places, and find ‘the locals’ are usually the ones who openly display their chauvinism and make one feel the interloper. No matter how many years I remain in this town I will never acquire local status – according to the locals. But there are more important things to worry about than melting pots and snobs.

    Like jihad.

  • Here’s some of the latest:

    A man who was beaten by an attacker while trying to extinguish a trash can fire during riots north of Paris has died of his injuries, becoming the first fatality since the urban unrest started 11 days ago, a police official said Monday. Youths overnight injured three dozen officers and burned more than 1,400 vehicles.

    Apparent copycat attacks spread to other European cities for the first time, with five cars torched outside Brussels’ main train station, police in the Belgian capital said.

    This is about jobs in a pig’s eye.

  • I don’t think it’s economics or the failure of socialism. The French haven’t figured out yet how to create a multicultural society while remaining true to the France that they grew up with and believe in. It doesn’t work to close your eyes and pretend that everyone’s the same. I’ve heard that the French, staying true to their cultural tradition, used to distribute textbooks in Africa that told children about “our ancesters, the Gauls…”

    France has to break open a power structure ruled by an elite, and this is going to raise all the controversy about quotas and affirmative action that we’ve been wrestling with in America since the 60s.

  • There are two types of assimilation. Economic and cultural. In America we have ethnic areas like China-Town, etc. But the unemployment in those towns is not 30-40% like they’re seeing in France. I think the Muslims are saying “Let us wear our Hijabs at school” not “We want to be excluded from the French economy”.

    The police leave the ghettos alone because of the “parallel economy” which is the drug trade. Without drug money pouring in from the elites in Paris these riots would have happened long ago. Maybe that’s why they’re so angry at Sarkozy’s threats to crack down on crime (read – drug trade). An interesting bit of info from a study I found online

    Many of these networks are centred in the “banlieues”, the working/lower class suburbs characterized by cheap high rise apartments, unemployment and a high proportion of immigrants, especially people from North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia). Drug trafficking is sometimes seen in these areas as a alternative or a way out of the miserable living conditions without prospect and is sometimes even stimulated by parents.

  • Rachel Cohen

    Time was, if you spoke French, you became French, as Caribbean and VietNamese immigrants learned. But the Muslim don’t want to be French–they want state-supported housing, schools, and handouts, without having to mesh into the rest of the culture. The French Communists encouraged the N.African immigration, and it backfired on them.
    But I don’t hear much condemnation from the “moderate” Muslim community leaders, here or in the EU

  • To all those who think this is just radicals trying to take over Europe read this quote from the LA Times

    “A regional police intelligence chief here said small-time gangsters who have long dominated the nation’s housing projects are instigating the troubles to assert control over drug dealing turf.

    Police also have seen indications in recent days that Islamic militants, another major force in slums with big Muslim populations, have played a role in inciting vandals, he said, but to a lesser extent and, they said, “not on the front lines.”

    At the same time, other groups of Islamic fundamentalists have been active on the streets trying to restore peace.”

    So yes there are Islamic militants involved, they do live there after all, but not to the extent everybody here would have you believe and this is according to French Police who I think have a better look at the situation than we do.

  • Ravo

    But the unemployment in those towns is not 30-40% like they’re seeing in France.

    No, the Chinese are a people that make their own employment. Same with Asia, Koreans etc. Most ethnic minorities that have succeeded in assimilation do that. They start with groceries and service, and work their way up.

    Every minority that has come to the shores of America and succeeded here have been those who do not expect others to provide them with jobs.

    But Carson Fire could not be more correct. This is NOT about jobs.
    That line is a feed to the useful idiots waiting to buy into it.

    In America, they use a war of words using black leaders like Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Jesse Jackson.

  • Ravo

    Sorry…the italics should have stopped after the first sentence.

  • Eileen

    I’m quite certain this is really only about preserving drug turf in 300 french cities and three other countries.

  • Eileen points out another factual white elephant. Why would this be spreading to Brussels if this were just a bunch of gangs? You get the feeling that the Islamist angle is being played down… and apparently it is. Here’s some disturbing perspective from TCS:

    A reporter interviews a man standing in front of a mosque in full Islamist regalia and politely relays his complaints. Do readers know that these offended Islamists are calling for the de-Zionization of France? And the defeat of the United States of America? No offense meant there! Do readers understand that the banlieues [the Muslim territories in France] are being shaped into a foreign and hostile nation?

    As some bloggers say, read the whole thing. It’s chilling reading.

  • Wait, white elephant? Wrong saying. I meant factual elephant in the middle of the room, I guess.

  • To compare the French and American economies is a bit of a stretch. They have double our level of unemployment. Do you really believe that the huge amounts of poverty have nothing to do with the rioting?

    Ravo, Asia includes the middle east. Here’s a big map if you don’t believe me.

    Carson Fire, do a Google news search for Brussels and you won’t find much about rioting. One article I did find is from the BBC

    “There have been some acts of arson abroad, including cars set on fire in Brussels and Berlin, but riots have not spread there.”

    If people continue to spin this as a religious war, despite the evidence (I can keep posting quotes from freely accessible news articles), it will eventually turn into one. Maybe that’s your goal.

  • Ravo

    Maybe that’s your goal

    Maybe it’s your goal to hide it.

    The media keeps pointing to a suit of clothes that no one else can see.

  • Ravo

    I meant Japanese etc. Their work ethic is quite different

  • I suppose you all think this was made up by the crazy terrorist media too…

    France’s biggest Muslim fundamentalist organization, the Union for Islamic Organizations of France, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, that forbade all those “who seek divine grace from taking part in any action that blindly strikes private or public property or can harm others.”

    I agree that the media ignored this for a while. They did because they tend to be more left leaning than the average American and see France as something America should emulate. The media are like Giants fans learning that Bonds is on roids. They just don’t want to talk about it, but it’s not because they’re part of any left wing terrorist coverup.

    I’m not a Muslim but I teach kids from the local high-school which happens to be in the worst part of town. Many of them are Muslim immigrants and they’re very peaceful and respectful. They do wear their hijab scarfs to school which is forbidden in France and it doesn’t seem to cause any problems. They have a tough enough time coming here as immigrants, learning english without other kids hearing from their parents that Islamic radicals are trying to start a war in Europe. And that’s why I’m so pissed off at the hawkish war mongers.

  • Ravo

    “They have a tough enough time coming here as immigrants, learning english without other kids hearing from their parents that Islamic radicals are trying to start a war in Europe. And that’s why I’m so pissed off at the hawkish war mongers.”

    That’s understandabley hard on those kids.

    But that doesn’t change the FACT that Islamic radicals ARE trying to start a war in Europe.

    If those perpetrating this don’t much care about the feelings of the kids they strap bombs on, they are unlikely to care much about the feelings of those kids around the world that will suffer due to their actions.

    And, if those radicals get their way, those kids lives will be anything but peaceful. Ultimately, they will have to choose between becoming apostate and being killed, or joining the convert or kill regime.

    Much of the world turned from the truth of Hitler and didn’t want to hear about it either.

  • Marina Architect

    You have to live in Paris to understand the French/Euro mindset. No deliberate snobbery exists, it’s more out of cultural dialogue. The Parisian way of life(operating rhythm) is very different than living in NYC. Very different: I’ve lived in both cities(Paris for 6 months). In New York, you are never too far from a net worth spreadsheet while in Paris, it’s not so obvious.

    The riots in my view are really the underclass screaming for attention. The underclass in the US have it far worse. If I were to be a starving artist(again!), I’d pick Paris over New York or Los Angeles. Starving in New York is 24 hours cruel while in Paris it can actually heighten your synapses due to all the history that still hangs in the air.

    Don’t get me wrong, Bohemia is dead but the Paris rioters are misguided. Come to the US and you don’t have any healthcare or nothing. Their is more fuel to riot here. All the US rioters are working on a mortgage though.

  • This has nothing to do with being war mongers, KirkH. I hope to God that I’m wrong and you’re right. I just suspect that such isn’t the case.

    The news in Brussels, as I understand it, is breaking. There’s not likely going to be tons of archived information on it yet. It took days and days before the mainstream media began seriously addressing the French riots, and they appear to be doing so now because it’s just not subsiding and going away like they hoped. But let’s hope that it does just subside and go away.

    To compare the French and American economies is a bit of a stretch. They have double our level of unemployment. Do you really believe that the huge amounts of poverty have nothing to do with the rioting?

    Yes, absolutely. Our economies aren’t set in stone. We did not have massive rioting during the Great Depression. We didn’t have rioting because of economic depression during the Carter years (that’s when my parents went bankrupt, we starved for a while, then lost the home… the last thing on our minds then was rioting and torching people’s cars) Depressed regions today don’t have riots over jobs. Riots that we have had tend to be based on passions, like the LA riots that were spurred on by a belief that police had gotten away with a racist beating. Poor people riot because of injustice, not economic depression.

    Who exactly is oppressing these rioters? The government handing out the dole? The jobs line is a cliche, but the rioters most likely know that it’s a cliche that many naive westerners are too willing to believe.

    I beg of you to read the TCS article that I posted, by an author living in Paris. Here’s some more:

    The Muslim immigrants clearly designated as beneficiaries of the project are not people who left their native lands and settled in other countries; they are and they remain immigrants down through the generations. They deserve endless special consideration as immigrants, and are encouraged to maintain an attachment to the umma, over and above their residence or citizenship in countries of the European Union. These are the “immigrants” who are running amok in France today. Many of them are second or third generation French!

    Their voices can be heard venting obsessive hatred of Zionists and Americans on the Sunday talk show on Mediterranée FM. And they are not all doing menial labor. They are articulate students, businessmen, white collar workers, intellectuals. And often assert their rights as French citizens. I heard one caller declare a year ago: “we don’t have to integrate, we’ve already done more than enough to integrate, now it’s up to them to integrate into our society!”

    This isn’t an oppressed people, a desparate people looking for jobs, this is a belligerent people that wish to displace the culture that surrounds them. I wish this were just a flash riot based on jobs, but every indication pointing to that seems to be bourne of naievety.

    I have muslim friends, myself. Many of them simply study the Koran independently. They have absolutely nothing to do with any of this. We are talking about *radical* Islam, the movement that has been vocal in its desire to see all of their enemies destroyed and subjugated. This is a movement that needs to be stopped and needs to be reformed.

    What is it going to take to get those blinders to come off? Let’s take this to extremes… if France were to fall into complete anarchy, would that be enough? If France ceased to exist as we knew it, would that be enough? Or would we still be arguing about whether 13 year olds with cell phones are torching cars because they don’t have jobs?

  • Ravo

    The riots in my view”=

    time to clean your glasses

  • Marina Architect

    Update: Does anyone have any links to compelling writing on this subject of the Paris rioting. It’s fascinating. I’m so tired of what is Web 2.0, Google, AOL and media on media musings. I’ve tuned out on blogs big time for months. This subject is fertile for perusing differing opinions.

  • Ravo

    Excellent points Carson Fire

    France has many poor neighborhoods consisting of other religions and nationalities. Why are NONE of THEM rioting?

  • Ravo

    Marina, here are a couple, the first one mentioned by Carson Fire…

    Eurabian Fights

  • Thanks for the coherent points Carson Fire. I’m not arguing that there are no Islamic radicals in France rioting as we type. My point is about scale. Not if but how many. You’re arguing that this is primarily a religious uprising, I’m posing quotes from articles that say otherwise.

    For instance. Five cars were burned in Brussels. That could have been done by one angry kid whos girl left him and needed to vent. Yet you use it as proof that the radical Islamic war is spreading through Europe.

    Regarding the talk show. If Muslims were to listen to the hyperbole that is AM radio in America they’re start building nuclear fallout shelters. If you look hard enough you can find all sorts of idiocy, regardless of ideology, race, creed, country, etc.

    About the dole. I don’t think poverty and a lack of assimilation are separate, non-interacting concepts. The lack of assimilation leads to unemployment and when combined with the already sluggish, socialist economy are enough to cause the riots.

    I did read the TechCentralStation article. Here’s another quote from TCS:

    Demagogic voices seeking to lay blame for the French rioting on the religion of Muhammad will have to ignore that only two weeks before, bloody disorders erupted in the British city of Birmingham. There, in another European ghetto community, called Lozells, Caribbean Blacks fought with Pakistanis. But some will, of course, find a reason to blame that on Islam, as well. The Caribbeans claimed one of their young women had been gang-raped by Muslims, and similar charges are common currency among French Islamophobes. Rumormongers and pundits opine, and anonymous, poor people die.

    Marina, you might want to try and type in French Riots for a more balanced view

  • kat

    If these were white Christian kids, MSM would be all over the story like dungbeetles over shit. France has been ordered not to announce the number of cars torched.
    But remember 911–they were also poor, oppressed muslims from millionaire families–always poor, oppressed muslims. That way we can’t hold them accountable for their terrorism–we excuse it like Kirk is doing. Soon they will be demanding sharia states within Belgium, France, Denmark, etc. Wait and see.

  • Age range of rioters: 12-21

    If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If all you read is LGF, everything looks like the creeping Islamist terror. Copycat street punks torching a car in Belgium, it must be Islamism!

    Boo!!! Are you scared yet??

    This very much reminds me of some of my environmentalist friends, who are certain beyond doubt that the environmental apocalypse is just around the corner. Everything they hear is more evidence, and they share alarming magazine articles amongst each other.

    As I type this a Fox News analyst is talking about how it really isn’t Islamist in nature… if you think that it is you really must take a step back and ask yourself how you got to where you are.

    There is a deadly radical Islamist threat. The French rioters are not a major part of it.

  • kat

    {There is a deadly radical Islamist threat. The French rioters are not a major part of it.}
    Of course, not.

  • Ravo


    I clicked on your name…that site (yours?)has a link to this one below: with different conclusions.

    Maybe things are different in France, but in my experience, ordinary mobs are not like this. Armies are.

  • owl 1

    Bingo Kat! Double whammy. Once again the Media is MIA because they are, once again, a major part of the story. This is Katrina with a twist.

    If you read the line, it is immigrants, poverty, unemployment, yada yada yada. Of course it is all of that. All of it. But the ELEPHANT in the room is that they are Islamics, screaming the “J” word as they co-ordinate their burnings. Now we have their “elders” waiting in the wings to “settle” their disputes and “bring order”. Convenient. What happened to plain ole police bringing order?

    This is a planned attack so the “elders” can step in and convince France to set up Sharia zones. That simple.

    We had reporters 24/7 showing all our “poor” to the world in Katrina, but do you see the same? Nope. After all, it has only went on for a week in 300 towns across France. Amazing that the Media is making themselves The Story again. It ought to be those “elders” in the bushes. Just how blind must they pretend to be?

  • jesuitical

    If I may share a humorous story about riots in Paris, I had been assigned by a
    well known religious order to study for a year in Europe, in the halcyon days
    (compared to now) of 1967 – 68. My Irish mom came over for a visit in May,
    and after delightful days in Ireland, we went to Paris where I had spent most
    of the year. Landing at Orly, there was only one taxi driver brave enough to
    take us to our hotel across from the Sorbonne (Hotel Diane). As we were
    hurtling down Blvd St. Germain, the student rioters were on one side, the
    police on the other, and large paving stones were flying over the taxi. At
    which point my 70 year old mom with white hair and glasses looked over
    and said, “Do the Parisians always behave this way?”

    Each afternoon about 3:00 pm, large trucks would pull up outside the hotel
    and disgorge squads of riot police. When we went out to Notre Dame or
    Montmartre, the police let us pass. Coming back, it was only the combination
    of my mother’s white hair and glasses, and my by then passable French, that
    got us back in past the barricades. Nightly the students would march, by the
    hundreds of thousands, the water cannon kept them relatively under control,
    but in retrospect they were tame compared to the anarchists in Genoa, or the
    the flamethrowers of the night we have now.

    Back then the Parisians were less than friendly, and when first there I would
    have starved had I not learned sandwich jambon. Nor was there ever a thought that one could expect even the most learned to speak English. Each
    morning, during my first class in French at the Sorbonne (learning as I went)
    we would take a break for coffee at 10:30, at the little cafe next door. And
    who would join us every morning, sitting by himself, but Jean Paul Sartre!
    He was pointed out to me by the man behind the counter when, by the third
    day of class, I had finally learned to correctly say, ‘cafe au lait.’ Thinking I then
    knew the entire language he pointed out the famous existentialist, as if I could go over to meet him. But my reflexive response was, “Does he speak
    English??” “Non!” Of course not. And gone forever was my nerve later on to
    try to speak in broken French about the “superior” approach of Neo-Thomistic
    philosophy to his Being and Nothingness. In those days, as now, you can be
    white, black, asian, yellow or pink with green polka dots, but if you don’t know
    the language you are effectively helpless in France. So it is to their great
    discredit that they did not make sure each muslim became utterly fluent in the
    language they regard as the golden key that unlocks all the doors.

  • Eileen

    Ah, yes, jesuitical, a lovely tale. C’est chouette! “Demonstrations” are just a way of life in France. Nothing to see here; move along.

    Did you notice the terrorists on the tape kat provided speak fluent french? They’re second and third generation citizens. Care to translate exactly what they’re saying as you say you were a Sorbonne student? My own french is rusty. I got the part where the guy says “Allahu akbar. We’re going to bring them down.”

    Btw, I find it ‘extremely’ hard to believe you would have starved if you hadn’t known the word jambon. The thing the French are best at is feeding people. My local grocers spent all kinds of time helping me find products and translating labels.

    Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, jesuitical? Surely you jest, just like the rest of your ‘humorous’ tale in the guise of Catholic holy man.

    Algerian Islamists were blowing up metro stations when I lived in Paris in ’85 – ’86. The french did nothing then, either.

    The problem is ISLAM and ISLAMOFASCISM, NOT language, poverty, melting pots, strudent demonstrations or rascism.

    Any ‘effort’ to suggest otherwise is pure taqiyya trash.

    …I don’t blame Jeff for ‘waiting a bit’ to open a riot/INTIFADA thread.

  • Eileen

    Er, not strudent but student. The former would probably be Austrian.

    Alors, jesuitical. On va parlers en francais? Je vous attend.

  • Eileen

    To the taqiyya crew:

    I count three on this thread so far. Did you know CentCom is here? Do you know what CentCom is? No? Good.

    G’night All. Sleep well.

    Et jesuitical? Ta guelle.

  • kat

    MSM is soon going to solve this. Christianne Amanpour has been sent by CNN to brainwash the masses RE the root causs and if the Iranian media get their way, they will soon be educating us and being quoted by our leftist rags like NYT. After all, Iran has the best human rights record in the world, thanks to these same journalists. Therefore, who btter than Iran, to do conduct a fact finding commission. Maybe they can send a mullah or two to help the terrorists.

  • In the midst of recounting the recent events concerning the riots, a CBS reporter this morning inserted into his story, almost as a non-sequitur, because it had nothing to do with what he had been saying or what he continued saying, that Islamic leaders are calling for peace. It was almost as if he had whispered it, because words like Islam, muslim, religion, etc, were used nowhere else in the report.

    No doubt the politics and motives are too complex to sum up in just a few words, but if extreme Islamic impulses aren’t a factor — why is it significant that Islamic leaders are calling for peace? Surely, if this is just about jobs or resentment against the government, or just thugs squabbling over territory, then pronouncements from Islamic leaders *are* non sequiturs, right? Why would anybody expect Islamic leaders to be influential in stopping people rioting about jobs?

    One other note — relating back to another topic, trust in journalism: CBS, in this same report, showed a man on camera who was clearly trying to avoid being in the shot. This man, the reporter said, was a resident of this poor neighborhood whose car was torched and did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals… his image, a tall, distinctive looking man with a large mustache, who would be easy to pick out in a crowd, lingered on screen for a pretty long time. On a man who didn’t want to be identified. In a world of satellite TV.

    Is this another example of journalistic ethics? Or are reporters simply dense, aloof boobs?

  • Instapundit points to this blog which summarizes it well

    The images of the rioters on the streets of Clichy show them sporting T-shirts labelled mort pour rien. [Died in vain] Now what could be more un-Islamic than that? No claiming of martyrdom or dozens of virgins here.

    There are not the flags, the typical chanting and sloganizing of Islamism on the marches. It’s true that over the last months, many attacks have taken place on Jewish premises, including cemeteries.

    But where today rioters are interviewed, they talk of the same types of grievance as articulated by race rioters of the sixties and seventies, of exclusion from jobs and harassment by the police.

    The blog points to this Independent item which notes:

    Talk of an intifada is absurdly misleading. Firstly, the rioters are far from being all Muslim (although more than half are from Islamic backgrounds). Second, they have no sense of political or religious identity and no political demands. Their allegiance is to their quartier and their gang. Their main demand, so far as can be established, is to be left alone by police and the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, to continue with their life of low-level violence and drugs trading. The wider significance is therefore not politico-religious but a warning of what happens if problems of deprivation and violence are allowed to fester.

  • Wow! Props to — of all people — the Koz Kidz. I almost joked in this thread yesterday that it wouldn’t take long for some people to find a way to blame this on Bush.

    Is Bush to blame for the Riots in Europe? (POLL)

    To their credit, even Koz Kidz don’t seem to buy this one, for the most part. Blaming Bush comes in so far at just 10%, blaming France itself 22%, and blaming the rioters themselves (by far the most conservative position on any given riot) 66%.

  • The blog points to this Independent item which notes:

    Talk of an intifada is absurdly misleading. Firstly, the rioters are far from being all Muslim (although more than half are from Islamic backgrounds). Second, they have no sense of political or religious identity and no political demands. Their allegiance is to their quartier and their gang. Their main demand, so far as can be established, is to be left alone by police and the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, to continue with their life of low-level violence and drugs trading. The wider significance is therefore not politico-religious but a warning of what happens if problems of deprivation and violence are allowed to fester.

    Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has a good response to that:

    We are told by the Paris correspondent for the leftist Independent newspaper that the rioters have no sense of political or religious identity and no political demands. I wonder how this correspondent knows so much about rioters’ deep identities. The young Muslim who attacked my wife’s cousin on a Paris bus seemed to have a religious-political identity (or at least an anti-semitic one). The same is true, judging from the reports I receive, of the kids who often attack the children of the same cousin.

    That the rioters make no political demands is neither surprising nor reassuring. As I suggested last night, the fact that these people stand outside of normal French politics is part of what’s most frightening. The young rioters, we are assured by those in the know, merely want to protect their turf without being harassed by the police. What this really means is that they want to commit crime and terrorize their neighborhoods without encountering the police. But this essentially secessionist goal is not an apolitical agenda. The desire to create lawless Muslim enclaves within France is precisely what makes these riots less like the riots in this country that occurred along side of the mainstream civil rights struggle, and more like an intifada. Our civil rights movement pushed for, and the riots probably helped bring about, a vastly increased African-American presence in the police forces of our cities. In Paris, by contrast, the issue is the right to be unpoliced.

    I wish I could post more here. Worth reading.

  • They attack whatever they feel they can attack, for whatever rationale. I recognize that attitude. Any religion, any people would be susceptible to it under the right conditions. These are garden-variety morons who have been singled out and then under-policed for too long. Their own power structure replaced the vaccum of power left when French police refused to police the suburbs, and now they feel they can get away with a lot of shit. And it’s lots of fun to throw molotov cocktails and torch cars with your buddies, who are egging you on to it, when you’re an uneducated young gang member.

    I would estimate that just by accepting the welfare checks of the French state, some of them are dependent on an anti-Islamic way of life, maybe even creating a debt they can’t get out of before the pilgrimage to Mecca. I notice they are completely ignoring the calls of the local Imams. Islamists? No. Morons.

  • ronbo

    Although I have no doubt that radical Islamists will take advantage of the French riots if given the opportunity, I have seen nothing so far to suggest that they instigated the violence or that they are directing it. By now I would have expected pogroms against Jews and Jewish institutions but that has not happened – yet.

    The minute the rioters start blaming the Jews I will change my view. Until then, however, I remain convinced that the “root cause” of the rioting lies elsewhere: an economy that inhibits entrepreneurship and jobs creation and a society that fraudulently claims to be color-blind while excluding people of color from the institutions required for social advancement (no motel or laundrette for you, Abdul, and no place at the grandes ecoles, either).

    When elite institutions in the US practiced overt discrimination, members of minority groups were able to find jobs, start businesses or found institutions of their own. This was no panacea and certainly no excuse for bigotry but provided concrete progress as well as hope for a better future. The experience of the French underclass could not be more different.

    It’s ironic that France finds the need for ministries of equal opportunity and social cohesion; since it doesn’t offer the one, it is rapidly losing the other.

  • Ravo

    The press coverage implies that issuance of the fatwa should be taken as a good-faith effort by responsible Muslim leaders to defuse the situation and end the rioting and arson. However, even before the fatwa was officially announced, the Muslim community announced in public and in English, that it was false.

    The radicals have an appropriate phrase to be used for those they can get to preach their story lines, such as in Undertoad’s post. But by far, the news media has to be their biggest coup and biggest group of USEFUL IDIOTS.

  • Eileen

    I am able to translate a bit of Sarkozy’s comments at the end of the tape kat linked to above.

    To those who are ‘preaching the story lines’, the fact is it’s intifada time.
    Sarkozy said: ” The youth have been calling for jihad. We are listening. Things are very serious…”

  • Eileen

    One would *think* that the MSM would immediately translate that tape fully and broadcast it (!) along with it’s translation, you know, in the interest of informing us of the news.

    Wouldn’t one?

  • owl 1

    Pure power play by someone hiding in the bushes……….”the elders”.

    Who did the gov go to for help? Why? So they only win a “teeny baby step of power”, so what? Do you honestly think you will ever hear the details of what is being done and why? No. Try more power to govern their tiny nation within a nation. Try Sharia.

    The question if there were any MEDIA to ask a question: Why would any gov allow a “bunch of kids” (media’s favorite description) burn thousands of cars, schools, buses w/cripple woman, beat a man to death, burn even a police station ………and not turn the police and army loose to stop this? Why would you tolerate this for 12 days before even talking about curfews?

  • Pingback: Squall Lines » Blog Archive » The New Intifada in France()

  • Ravo

    One would *think* that the MSM would immediately translate that tape fully and broadcast it (!) along with it’s translation, you know, in the interest of informing us of the news.

    Wouldn’t one?

    Yes, if there was any interest at all of informing us of news.

    Clearly the absence of translation indicates NO such interest.

    a lie repeated often and forcibly, gains the legitimacy of truth.

    Joseph Goebbels was propaganda minister of the Nazi government and a close confidant of the leader, Adolf Hitler. Goebbels’s policy was based on the notion that a lie repeated often and forcibly, gains the legitimacy of truth.

    The entrenched news media have become masters of truth twist.

    All that is left to believe their work are the useless idiots. Sort of like those who lined the streets admiring the clothes in the tale about the naked emperor. Thank goodness for some less ethically challenged internet bloggers – the voices of the young child.

  • Ravo

    er…that should be USEFUL idiots, as in being very useful to further the
    propagandist cause that this is about jobs.

  • Eileen

    Tweaking my own Sarkozy translation above… “Some of the youth were calling for jihad yesterday..mumble mumble. We are listening. The words are serious/things are serious or they’re serious (if interpreted as an idiom).”

    Note that they’re all screaming Allahu akbar, the jihadi war cry, at the beginning of the tape.

    Damn I wish I weren’t so rusty, and that I could isolate and improve upon the audio.. and that I had more time to devote to this. Sorry.

    Think I’ll forward it to Fox with an appeal to translate and air it. It might be futile, but it’s about the only shot. How pathetic is that concept?

  • Eileen

    Okay, done. I don’t get Fox News, so if this eventually makes the airwaves, would someone kindly let me know?

  • Eileen

    Violence is spreading in other towns in Belgium besides Brussels:

    “Officials in Belgium played down the violence there, although there were minor arson incidents in Sint Niklaas in the north and Liege in the east as well as in the capital.”

  • kat
  • kat

    I am curious–do the terrorist apologists favor a ‘Paristinian’ state?? Does MSM, I wonder?? Or are there one set of rules for Jews and another for Europe??