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Why Paris Is Burning
November 5, 2005 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Why Paris Is Burning Officially, the French state doesn't recognize minorities, only citizens of France, all of them equal under the law. But that republican ideal has seemed especially hollow over the past week as the children of impoverished, largely Muslim immigrants from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa fought running battles with police throughout the banlieues, or suburbs, to the east and north of the French capital...
posted by Postroad (199 comments total)

 
Had his discussion with some friends who lived in France for 15 years, and they said exactly the same thing. Discrimination against minorities and foreigners is ubiquitous in France. Of course, it doesn't help when the Interior Minister shoots off his mouth with comments about cleaning up the streets "with a power hose."

On the other hand, part of me is saying, "Why don't you just appease them and give them what they want, so they'll have less reason to engage in acts of terror?"
posted by JParker at 11:00 AM on November 5, 2005


So this is basically like what happened in the US in the 1960s with riots and uprisings and whatnot?
posted by mathowie at 11:08 AM on November 5, 2005


I was a 'guest worker' in Japan for 8 years. I have some problem with immigrants demanding changes & allowances from their host culture.

America is a unique (?) experiment in democratic multiculturism. I understand and sympathize/empathize with cultural conservatives in eg. the UK and Holland for not particularly agreeing with or enjoying the accomodations made for immigrants.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:24 AM on November 5, 2005


like what happened in the US in the 1960s

More like Nigeria in the 2000s

The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris Theodore Dalrymple, 2002

and for England,

The Suicide Bombers Among Us
posted by dand at 11:24 AM on November 5, 2005


I have some problem with immigrants demanding changes & allowances from their host culture.

In large part, the initial waves of immigration from the former French colonies in North Africa happened in the 50s and 60s. These "immigrants demanding changes" have been French citizens for two or three generations at this point. For the most part, the immigrants from Algeria and Tunisia settled in the northeast corner of Paris (the 19th and 20th arrondisements) and the suburbs nearby. To my knowledge, these areas remain more or less Arab ghettos today.

I know it's not easy for foreign cultures to mix in one country, even over several generations, but France has seemed to do a particularly poor job with it. The fact that there has been little movement, ecnomic or physical from this situation in 30 or 40 years is telling.

I get no measure of joy or schadenfreude from this. I lived in France from 1987-88 and again form 1991-93 and I loved every single minute of it, and came to call it home. But, I did get really tired of my French friends, even some very well educated ones, tell me how "raciste" we Americans are. That we all have the blood of former slaves on our hands, and then without a hint of irony, complain about how the "damned dirty Arabs" were ruining their country.

I don't know if this is the chickens coming home to roost or what, but it certainly seems so.
posted by psmealey at 11:31 AM on November 5, 2005


"I have some problem with immigrants demanding changes & allowances from their host culture."
Yeah, imagine the cheek of native-born French citizens wanting to enjoy equal access to job opportunities and freedom from police harassment! Whatever will these upstarts think of next? It's all those damn micks and greasers going over to the Land of the Free and demanding changes from the natives who must have been givin em ideas - let's deport troublemakers like the Kennedys, the Scalias and the Giulianis before they start demanding changes to their host culture ...
"More like Nigeria in the 2000s"
And what the hell do you know about Nigeria, anyway? Ever stepped foot in the place, or did you just feel like reaching for the easiest "Turd World" country that came to mind? You're a fucking moron.
posted by Goedel at 11:42 AM on November 5, 2005


I'd like to second this being different from the US, immigrants are extremely different from the African American situation. For instance in the Detroit riots poor white from appalachia rioted as well. In fact they found the people sniping the police were all poor whites. There was a reason for that that centered around work and the economic system of that era.

The situation is France is different and quite complex. You must factor in life as an immigrant worker as well as the religious, racial, and cultural factors. What will be interesting to see is if workers in France join in. My bet would be that they wouldn't. People haven't adjusted to this transnational situation, and are held in check by the delusion of nationality guarenteeing them privledges. The hopelessness of that way of thinking will soon become clear...

Why are they rioting? They are equally rioting against the particular violence that led up to it as they are against the living and working conditions. It is a rejection of that way of living, that world.
posted by aussicht at 11:45 AM on November 5, 2005


mathowie, a more recent US comparison would be the 1992 Rodney King uprising.

Newsflash: there is racial tension, discrimination, poverty, and unemployment in France. A subset of communities of North African and African descent living in the projects are particularly disenfranchised. There's also a lot of crime of the drug dealing and theft varieties.

A weird thing is that setting fire to cars has been commonplace for years in France. It happens a lot around Christmas and New Year's.

psmealy, I live in the 19th/20th arrondissements. Those are not the ghettoes that the suburbs can be, though there are lots of "exotic" people living there. I think anti-Arab racism is on the decline as people of Arab descent become more mainstream in French society. But it will certainly take years to recover from past racism and bad policies.
posted by Turtle at 11:51 AM on November 5, 2005


And what the hell do you know about Nigeria, anyway?

Lagos, oil work.

Nigerians are very tribal. Get a work crew from one village, put a man from another village on the crew, and he'll be in the hospital by the end of the day. Human life has little value outside one's circle.

Likewise, from the article above:

> A kind of anti-society has grown up in them—a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, “official,” society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust—greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years—is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.

> Benevolence inflames the anger of the young men of the cités as much as repression, because their rage is inseparable from their being. Ambulance men who take away a young man injured in an incident routinely find themselves surrounded by the man’s “friends,” and jostled, jeered at, and threatened: behavior that, according to one doctor I met, continues right into the hospital, even as the friends demand that their associate should be treated at once, before others.
posted by dand at 11:51 AM on November 5, 2005


A large and vocal proportion of the Arab communities in Europe are demanding things from the government but are totally unwilling to change themselves. Especially in the areas of forced marriages, womens rights and religion in schools. The assimilation cuts both ways- I know plenty of foreigners, Arab and other who have had no problem assimilating into French culture (I have non-white cousins who've lived there for 20 years now) but they haven't demanded special treatment. The French don't do special treatment.

I've "immigrated" to a new country three times now and I have little sympathy for this particular group at this particular time, myself. Read the news stories about women who have been beaten to death, set on fire or strangled by their families for living like "European whores" (ie wearing jeans, dating or refusing an arranged marriage) and you will understand why there is such distrust. Everyday citizens in the UK, Germany and France don't support police harassment or discrimination but they have a hard time supporting any kind of special treatment or programs when it turns out that the community leaders demanding it are the ones who threaten violence to anyone who doesn't agree with them, refuse to educate women and indoctrinate young men. The constant use of the word "whore"in reference to western women doesn't exactly get the female support that has been so crucial to many social justice movements. Womens rights groups and shelters actively oppose many of the cultural concessions for example.
posted by fshgrl at 11:55 AM on November 5, 2005


Welp, looks like Goedel owes Dand an apology.
posted by Jezztek at 11:57 AM on November 5, 2005


Welp, looks like Goedel owes Dand an apology.

Yeah, I didn't quite get the level of bitterness in Goedel's response to Dand. Do these guys, like, have some history or something?
posted by afroblanca at 12:09 PM on November 5, 2005


"Lagos, oil work."
Wow, so living in Victoria Island or some other foreigner enclave and commuting to your local Shell branch office for a few months somehow makes you an expert on Nigeria? Who knew expertise could be so cheaply acquired?
"Nigerians are very tribal."
See, that word "tribe" pins you right there: there are more Yoruba or Hausa people than there are Spaniards or Scandinavians, but in the minds of ignoramuses like you, all Africans belong to "tribes." Spare me your stupid generalizations: I've seen to many loudmouths of your type who think their little flythroughs make them authorities about foreign cultures.
"Welp, looks like Goedel owes Dand an apology."
As one of those "tribal" Nigerians of which he speaks, I don't owe him a goddamn thing. He's nothing but an ignorant moron shooting his mouth off about a place he knows nothing about. Ask this Old-Nigeria-Hand to translate the following for you: eni ti o mo nkankan rara, ko ye ko ma shi enure lati je ki gbobgo aye mo kpe olodo lo je. Kani pe o di enure mu, eniyan mi ti le ma ro kpe o ni ogbon diye lori.
posted by Goedel at 12:10 PM on November 5, 2005


"Yeah, I didn't quite get the level of bitterness in Goedel's response to Dand. Do these guys, like, have some history or something?"
I resent ignorant ideologues misusing the land of my ancestors as a shorthand for everything they consider messed up in the world. Nigeria has problems aplenty, yes, but that doesn't make it fodder for some "City Journal" quoting, axe-grinding LGF-type looking to score irrelevant points against Islam.
posted by Goedel at 12:14 PM on November 5, 2005


Do these guys, like, have some history or something?

Seems so.
posted by the cuban at 12:15 PM on November 5, 2005


I'll say.
posted by shoos at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2005


Nigeria doesn't have a "tribal" problem? Dand was apparently referring to a situation analogous to the Catholic/Protestant divide, not people running around in grass skirts.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:27 PM on November 5, 2005


(divide in Ireland)
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:27 PM on November 5, 2005


From my personal experience: stuck in traffic in Paris with an Algerian friend at the wheel. Motionless. Some French guy recklessly backs out of a side road right into the side of our car.

Three "witnesses" run over to the guy that hit us and give him their phone numbers. "I saw that Algerian guy hit you, I'll testify."

Another guy did give us his number saying "I'll testify that they are lying."
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2005


Back in 1984 I was an exchange student in France, living with a French family, and at a holiday gathering of the extended family, the topic turned to "if you had to have a minority as a neighbor, which would be the least troubling?" and the minorities in question were: 1) Arab 2) Sub-saharan African 3) Vietnamese 4) Jewish (!). They discussed the relative perceived arguments against each, i.e., Arabs are lazy and noisy during Ramadan, Africans are lazy and smell bad, Vietnamese are all into organized crime, and the Jews, "well, you know." Eventually they agreed that Jews would make the least offensive neighbors because "at least they look French."

I sat there, openmouthed, and when I began to sputter a protest was immediately slapped down with " oh you Americans are all racist, look at the problems you have there, how dare you criticize."

I went around and around with my host mother who was convinced that there was something in the skin of Africans that made them smell bad. Nothing I could say would cast even a flicker of doubt in her mind.

And both of my host parents were schoolteachers. Grrrrrr.
posted by ambrosia at 12:40 PM on November 5, 2005


On a set of forums I help run, the owner and administrator posted up an article from Real Clear Politics which espoused the idea that France has a lot to learn from us. It's been part of a pattern of finger-wagging back at the Europeans.

I took issue with the article, first, because it ended without any idea of what it is the French could learn from us. Yes, I can offer my own ideas of what France could learn from us, but the article did not and I have little idea what that person thought could be learned.

My second issue with it was that it acted as if we've been in the clear since 1992, conveniently forgetting Cincinnati in 2001. Of course I was told something along the lines of "no, that's different." No, it's not and the riots in France are again a difference in kind.

The argument then spilled over when I took umbrage at the finger-wagging. I wasn't really of the age to pay attention to the world community during the Rodney King riots, so I had no idea what Mitterand and other European leaders and journalists said about it. I was shown this and I agree that they finger-wagged. And this impacted me how?

Then I'm criticized for not criticizing them back. Bluntly, I don't give a shit what Le Monde thinks about us, or Chirac or even that amorphous Frenchman. I care what French friends think, but I'm not going to let political posturing goad me into growing the excrescence of pointless nationalistic fervour.

France has problems. They like to point ours out often and maliciously in the papers and the halls of the powerful. We've pointed theirs out in our lengthy history of coöperation and competition. It's just not enough for me to get involved. It is petty, it is stupid, it is insensitive and it is not worth my time.

So, of course, I'm lumped in with people who hate America and love Europe because I'm fine with criticising my own and not defending us vocally against aspersions cast from people I don't consider to matter. I can live with that because it's another thing I don't care about. Proudly place me in your pointless category, please.

My nation, my leaders and my countrymen are and should be my first concern. When I see them behaving like fools, lashing out at others and each other, well, occasionally I'm going to step in and say they're morons.

And they are. What does it say about them when they engage in exactly the same kind of petty behaviour? Oh, a German minister said Katrina is the roost getting filled with our chickens of indiscretion. So, we're going to go right back and wag the finger at...the French.

Many of these same Americans are happy to point out how relatively quiet our press was about the 2003 heat wave, or these riots. They brandish it about like it's a badge of honour. And then they go muck it up by engaging in just that kind of act.

I expect children to behave this way. And I guess that's just what we are now.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:47 PM on November 5, 2005


I probably wouldn't immigrate to a country where I'd be treated bad.
posted by shoos at 12:49 PM on November 5, 2005


Goedel: Try not be a complete, presumptive, raging asshole. It will help you get your point across and will make people more responsive to what you might have to say.
posted by xmutex at 12:52 PM on November 5, 2005


After having lived in the "banlieues" for a couple of years in southern france, and having lots of discussions with french people about immigrants from the Maghreb, it seems like the french are offended because they won't try to fit into french culture. They remain isolated, and agressive towards "europeanism" and the french in general. There is no integration between the two societies, and I think that's where the conflict is coming from. Neither side wants to accept the other side. They want to keep everything they have, and everything that the others have too.

It's no melting pot. More of a shoving match.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:59 PM on November 5, 2005


Goedel: Try not be a complete, presumptive, raging asshole..
No, I really think dand was being a dick here.

I feel like we have a reasonable, informed discussion about how generalizations are bad - all french aren't evil, all american's aren't evil, and we all deserve a bunch of criticism. It's a hard point, because it's really easy to wag fingers. But then we get this, out of nowhere:

Nigerians are very tribal. Get a work crew from one village, put a man from another village on the crew, and he'll be in the hospital by the end of the day. Human life has little value outside one's circle.

If I said this about the white french, and their mistreatment of Algerian french, would it be ok? No.
If I said it about the Algerians towards the french, would it be ok? No.

Goedel's wrath was poorly spoken. But dand, to me, looks like just the kind of racist, generalizing twit that we're all trying hard not to be about the French. Pehaps dand isn't actually racist, and didn't just make gross generalizations that sound really inappropriate to me. But he sure sounds like it.
posted by metaculpa at 1:08 PM on November 5, 2005


> I have little sympathy for this particular group

We're actually talking about two groups of people:

- a tiny minority of criminals, looters, and delinquents, along with ordinary young people joining in the "fun"

- a large population of people living in pretty bad, state-run neighborhoods, who face discrimination and poor perspectives.

The second group is often a victim of the first. The first is currently engaged in a showdown with French police.

Captaintripps, I had the exact same experience. Americans seem to have way too much schadenfreude over this, which, as the name implies, is wholly un-American! And childish. But human, I guess.
posted by Turtle at 1:14 PM on November 5, 2005


I probably wouldn't immigrate to a country where I'd be treated bad.

Neither would most of the people being discusssed. As has been repeatably pointed out, many of these people were born in France.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:16 PM on November 5, 2005


Ya know, I love France, and I love the French. But alongside what Captaintripps said, it's just sad that there's this idea that America and France need to compete in terms of how enlightened they are. Neither country will admit that it has some serious fucking problems. However, I'd much rather be a recent African immigrant trying to make it in Queens rather than Paris. Yeah, yeah, spoken like a white male American, and America has had some awful race riots, but there's something of a blessing in having a mere 200 years of clusterfucks as opposed to 700 years to deal with.

And I'd like to go back and watch La Haine--any Francophiles care to way in on how accurately the film depicted the situation back in 1995? Is it relevant today?
posted by bardic at 1:19 PM on November 5, 2005


wow, ambrosia.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:20 PM on November 5, 2005


Nor would I immigrate to a country where I have reason to believe that the children I raise will be treated bad. How's that?
posted by shoos at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2005


So, um just so I understand this correctly, from TFA:
[Anger and resentment] exploded last Thursday night when two teenagers in the northeastern banlieue of Clichy-sous-Bois were electrocuted after they climbed into a electric relay station and touched a high-voltage transformer. The youths—one Malian, the other Tunisian—had apparently thought they were being chased by police after fleeing a police identity check. Though a preliminary investigation has found that they weren't being pursued, their senseless deaths were quickly blamed on the police.
Two very intelligent kids are running from the police. Except the police aren't chasing them. They proceed to electrocute themselves. Are these riots in celebration of them posthumously receiving matching Darwin awards?
posted by mullingitover at 1:23 PM on November 5, 2005


If I said this about the white french, and their mistreatment of Algerian french, would it be ok? No.
If I said it about the Algerians towards the french, would it be ok? No.


metaculpa: at issue is whether dand's characterization of the ethnic/"tribal" conflict in Nigeria is accurate or not. If it is true that the two groups simply can't get along, then I think it was "ok" for dand to make the characterization.

I have no reason to believe he was distorting the situation, and of course Goedels initial response to dand was not indicative of a balanced or reliable perspective on the subject.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:24 PM on November 5, 2005


Are these riots in celebration of them posthumously

clearly the riots were touched off by this event, indeed like the Rodney King riots weren't just about a jury finding some abusive cops innocent.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:27 PM on November 5, 2005


As one of those "tribal" Nigerians of which he speaks, I don't owe him a goddamn thing. He's nothing but an ignorant moron shooting his mouth off about a place he knows nothing about.

I don't know shit about Nigeria, but this violent defense of "the land of my anscestors" at such slight provocation does not seem like the best way to convince people that you don't have a "tribal" attitude.

like what happened in the US in the 1960s

uh, that sort of suggests that you might not be aware of what went on in Paris in the 1960's. An interesting contrast to the current events.
posted by sfenders at 1:33 PM on November 5, 2005


La Haine is relevant to all this because events happening now mirror the backdrop of that film. Widespread rioting and unrest in the banlieues over Police treatment of Muslim's living there. It's based on true events - the shooting of a muslim in 1993. It's also a great film.

Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé and Saïd Taghmaoui play three guys on a desolate housing estate outside Paris, a neighbourhood scarred by continuous rioting. A friend of theirs lies dangerously ill in hospital after being beaten senseless by the police. Pure, electrifying hate is in the air, which triggers an appalling chain of events.

There is a great little primer on La Haine and un cinéma de banlieue here.
posted by fire&wings at 1:53 PM on November 5, 2005


correction: reviewing the thread I see dand was talking about village-level "tribal" frictions, which Goedel countered by asserting two nation-sized ethnic groups existed.

I conflated the two characterizations, above.

Perhaps dand could amplify his initial characterization of village-level tribalism to support its generalization to Nigerians as a whole.

And, OT, people with insecurities often point the finger at The Other rather than facing up to their own failings. Plus I think our libertopian friends are existentially-threatened by the mere presence of socialist economies, wishing they would either implode spectacularly or drop off the face of the earth.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:58 PM on November 5, 2005


"I went around and around with my host mother who was convinced that there was something in the skin of Africans that made them smell bad."

The French saying someone smells bad? Le pot, meet la bouilloire.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:59 PM on November 5, 2005


I lived in France for 2 years (01-03), with my wife whose immediate family live in the south - and who are Swiss French.

Both my wife and I were sans-papier. Despite having grown up in France from the age of 1, undertaking all of her studies and having family there, she was now 'owned' by me under French law – she was quite literally 'ma femme' (this was the final judgement handed down by the prefecture dealing with her application for renewal of her expired 'carte de residence').

One day I was briefly incarcerated at the airport for filming (we were making a documentary about secret deportations being made by the newly elected UMP) - I wasn't alone - there were about 15 North Africans all squeezed into a small glass ‘cage’. I can’t say I was treated respectfully – but didn't expect to be – I was caught breaking the law, arrested, taken to the other side of immigration and with only an Australian driver’s license for ID. My white skin saved me from the glass sardine can, and apart from the idle threats about what they were going to do with me next I was lavished with cigarettes albeit made to sit facing my hapless comrades who were being deported.

A major issue for France are the sans papier (some 200,000 currently exist in France) . You can arrive on French soil, commence immigration processing but given no status whatsoever. You're allowed to stay but you aren't allowed to work. The inordinate amount of time it takes to manifest any sort of status along this path (2 years for us) uses attrition as a weapon – you can’t work and if you have no money are forced to conduct any subsistence illegally. If you're caught along the way – you're deported, banned from re-entry and fined (the process usually means being drugged, bound and placed on a flight back to the nearest country that will take you).
posted by strawberryviagra at 2:00 PM on November 5, 2005


Nor would I immigrate to a country where I have reason to believe that the children I raise will be treated bad. How's that?

Well, France and the US both bill themselves as tolerant, liberal countries - for most people, the appeal of their wealth must outweight any idea that one might be mistreated upon arrival.

But so what if they did believe that their children would be treated poorly, and moved their anyway? Does that give the French the right to treat those children poorly? Like some kind of contract? (We told you we'd beat you if you came close enough to reach ya - so we're going to do it!)

I really don't think so.

And I really don't think so becuase France simply could not function as it does without its immigrant population. Nor could the US. If we're going to depend on these people and invite them in, we really owe it to ourselves (and to them) to treat them well.
posted by metaculpa at 2:09 PM on November 5, 2005


That Barbarians at the Gates of Paris article reads a lot like the rumours of lawlessness from New Orleans. Are firetrucks really routinely accompanied by armored vehicles? Are they really subject to stoning and molotov cocktail? Well, the author doesn't bother to corroborate... I quit reading at that point though, because his statements were either completely mundane or completely sensational.
My acquaintance said to the police that he would make a complaint. The senior among them advised him against wasting his time. At that time of night, there would be no one to complain to in the local commissariat. He would have to go the following day and would have to wait on line for three hours. He would have to return several times, with a long wait each time. And in the end, nothing would be done.
My Mom was shot with a pellet gun a couple of months ago in St. Catherines (a small Ontario city directly across the late from Toronto). She called the police with a description of the 'gunmen' and their truck at about midnight and by 4am she called back and said 'forget it' because she had to go to bed. Apparently the ongoing fights in the bar downtown ratted higher on the priority list than a 'drive-by shooting' that was already resolved. Not at all unreasonable of course. Police just aren't the 'thin blue line' of mythology.
posted by Chuckles at 2:11 PM on November 5, 2005


Also, Heywood, I don't think there's any real argument that can "amplify his initial characterization of village-level tribalism to support its generalization to Nigerians as a whole." I also just don't understand what he's trying to say in this argument that isn't just a bizarre generalization. I mean, here's what he posted (and quoted).

> Nigerians are very tribal.
> Human life has little value outside one's circle.
> Likewise, from the article above:
> If you are not one of them, you are against them.
> Benevolence inflames the anger of the young men of the cités as much as repression, because their rage is inseparable from their being.
> .... the friends demand that their associate should be treated at once, before others.

The argument seems to be :
1. My workers didn't seem to like some other workers, and beat them up.
2. French Algerians also aren't very nice.

What is QED? What else can he be saying, except that all brown people are bad?

Anyway, this Thodore Dalrymple guy is a jackass:

Here he complains that the Equal Opportunities Commission "sniffs out racism, much as the Spanish Inquisition once sniffed out judaizing heresies among the conversos, and in the process it provides non-manual employment for the semi-educated."

Socialism and anti-Semitism are closely related worldviews

(I think dand may have been cut off. If that's the case, I should shush, as he can't defend himself. Perhaps in ANY event, I should shush.)
posted by metaculpa at 2:27 PM on November 5, 2005


What? The socialist utopia, France? No Way! Say it ain't SO!

Having to report on this must be really grating on the staff of the NYTimes. Can't they just close their eyes, tap their heels together and make it go away?
posted by HTuttle at 2:31 PM on November 5, 2005


We're actually talking about two groups of people:

- a tiny minority of criminals, looters, and delinquents, along with ordinary young people joining in the "fun"

- a large population of people living in pretty bad, state-run neighborhoods, who face discrimination and poor perspectives.


If you look at my post you'll see that is what I said and the second group face more disenfranchisement from the first group than the government. My experience of Arab communities in Europe (lived in a highyl immigrant neighbourhood for years) is that a percentage of the population does not want to assimilate, nor do they want other Muslims to assimilate and they are prepared to do violence to them to prevent it, particularly women. They want the good things about living in Europe but they don't want to have to obey the laws or give up the control of their families they would have elsewhere. Every time it is pointed out to them that they are breaking the law they respond with "that is a law for degenerate westerners, it does not apply to us". It's a problem.

Although I have to say that some assimiltaion seems to have taken place, what could be more Parisian than rioting in the streets?
posted by fshgrl at 2:50 PM on November 5, 2005


it's just sad that there's this idea that America and France need to compete in terms of how enlightened they are

My multicultural diversity integration is bigger than yours!
posted by funambulist at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2005


Goedel's wrath was poorly spoken. But dand, to me, looks like just the kind of racist, generalizing twit that we're all trying hard not to be about the French. Pehaps dand isn't actually racist, and didn't just make gross generalizations that sound really inappropriate to me. But he sure sounds like it.

I felt the same way. Goedel was reacting exactly the way people who are fed up with being treated with contempt and prejudice tend to react, and dand was certainly sounding like a stone racist ("Human life has little value"—sure thing, bwana, you know best 'cause you had them tribals right there on your plantation), whatever may be in his heart.
posted by languagehat at 3:00 PM on November 5, 2005


What? The socialist utopia, France? No Way! Say it ain't SO!

Having to report on this must be really grating on the staff of the NYTimes.


Nah, they'll just have Judy Miller write about it.
posted by rxrfrx at 3:04 PM on November 5, 2005


Having to report on this must be really grating on the staff of the NYTimes.

No. That's not the part that's grating.
posted by psmealey at 3:06 PM on November 5, 2005


There's my not well informed point of view, but realistic I guess

1* Division between groups is fomented by the usual vulture politicians for their own benefits : omission of similarities is the first sign of this political tactic

2* Religion is also used to further foment division and difference

3* An accident happens as the youngsters, frightened by the prospect of being caught by police, accidentally find their death in a not well secured (?) electrical station

This is used as an excuse to further exacerbate the situation , this kind of situation may generated by the local Coultards and O'Reillys and Limbaughs (and sometimes also by the Moores) Mullahs or Integralist Priests who may also see this as an opportunity to become TV or media personalities.
posted by elpapacito at 3:08 PM on November 5, 2005


Does that give the French the right to treat those children poorly?

No, it means the parents screwed up. So did the French.
posted by shoos at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2005


Seems to me this whole deal justifies the "multicultural agenda" that racist conservatives hate so much. In France, everyone has to act french and be assimilated. Assimilation is a policy. And this is the shit that goes down.

In countries where multiculturalism is the policy, where individual sub-cultures are respected and celebrated, the hatred and violence is restricted mainly to talk radio.

1* Division between groups is fomented by the usual vulture politicians for their own benefits : omission of similarities is the first sign of this political tactic

How very true. Everyone belongs to a culture of one. Within Australia, for instance, even if there were no people but white, english protestants, we would still have multiculturalism. My culture might mean I spend my time gardening and playing music. Someone else's might mean they spend the weekends going fishing and watching football. Someone else's might mean drinking chardonnay and going to the opera. Half the people vote for one political party, half for another. Culture is, fundamentally, your actions and beliefs, and people who demand an end to multiculturalism are demaning the creation of a robot-like white-bread society where everyone looks the same, thinks the same, eats the same, watches the same tv shows, goes to the same church, listens to the same music...that's unrealistic. It is actually easier to find similaries between people than differences, but some arseholes like making it hard for themselves and others.
posted by Jimbob at 4:05 PM on November 5, 2005


By the by: Two of our most popular MeFites are in Paris right now cheering on the rioters. Wish 'em luck.
posted by dhoyt at 4:07 PM on November 5, 2005


("Human life has little value"—sure thing, bwana, you know best 'cause you had them tribals right there on your plantation

misstatement of dand's post:

"Human life has little value outside one's circle."

which was referring to the "tribal" village circles, not his worldview.

It is not "stone racist" to objectively describe unpleasant reality, eg. the Tutsi-Hutu enmity, the N. Ireland troubles, or black/Korean frictions in Los Angeles.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:21 PM on November 5, 2005


The socialist utopia, France?

Ha! Try again. But this time, with a real socialist utopia, like Finland or Sweden.

Awe, looks like your inane comment doesn't work so well now, does it?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:38 PM on November 5, 2005


In France, everyone has to act french and be assimilated. Assimilation is a policy.

Well I think this has to be looked at in a more finely-grained way. Exactly how are the assimilation policies put forth? Personally I think banning headscarves goes too far - other students wouldn't be harmed by some girls wearing something on their head.

But what about things like the freedom for women to date, to wear European-style clothes, to leave abusive husbands? In cases like this, "assmilation" means respecting the basic human rights of the women of these cultures. And there is a backlash against this. Does this mean we give in and let them treat their women like property?

What's the right course?
posted by beth at 4:41 PM on November 5, 2005


("Human life has little value outside one's circle"—sure thing, bwana, you know best 'cause you had them tribals right there on your plantation)

Thanks, heywood. It's much more effective and damning damning when corrected.
Oh those poor fools can't even treat each other well! They do so deserve do be enslaved!
posted by metaculpa at 4:41 PM on November 5, 2005


Oh, it's you again. I'm perfectly capable of reading, thank you, and I know exactly who he thinks don't value human life: those black savage Africans. And now I know you agree. Why am I not surprised?

Furthermore, I'll bet you know exactly as much about "the Tutsi-Hutu enmity" as you do about Islam. Ancient hatreds, right? What can the white man do, even with his superior culture and intellect, against such immemorial truths? Perhaps it would surprise you to learn that it was the white man (the Belgians, to pick the exact tribe in question) who introduced and fostered the Tutsi-Hutu enmity. Divide and conquer, and all that. But never mind those confusing details, let's focus on the big picture: those damn Africans just make a mess of everything!
posted by languagehat at 4:42 PM on November 5, 2005


That was directed towards Heywood "I know all about Untermenschen" Mogroot. Damn, this thread moves fast.
posted by languagehat at 4:44 PM on November 5, 2005


I said nothing about "ancient hatreds" wrt the Hutu-Tutsi enmity. That is apparently straw you felt the need to whack. Have fun. You are apparently incapable of logic or honest debate.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:53 PM on November 5, 2005


posted by Goedel Ask this Old-Nigeria-Hand to translate the following for you: eni ti o mo nkankan rara, ko ye ko ma shi enure lati je ki gbobgo aye mo kpe olodo lo je. Kani pe o di enure mu, eniyan mi ti le ma ro kpe o ni ogbon diye lori.

I believe this translates as,

"Dear Sir, I am writing you with an urgent request. I know this letter will come to you as a surprise but suffice it to say I got your contact from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council who assured me you are capable and reliable to assist me in this transaction. Before I go into details, I will first introduce myself to you. I am Mr. Joseph Abudulkarim Adisa, a son to the Minister of Works and Housing of the Federation of Nigeria."
posted by fandango_matt at 5:17 PM on November 5, 2005


Oi! Don't just insult each other, ya twits.

Heywood, what I was trying to say, and lh may have tried to get my back for, is that dand really was describing current trends in behavior as "innate" to a set of people. You do seem to be backing him up on this, perhaps to your discredit. Why else was the comparison between French Muslims and Nigerians relevant at all?

What I'm saying is that I think the phrase

"Human life has little value outside one's circle." ... referring to the "tribal" village circles.

really is wrong. Not as in incorrect, but wrong as in bad. This kind of generalization never stands any serious analysis; it is shown as entirely untrue (ie., there actually is a war going on here, so it's not just trivial enmity driving what you see), or as such a weird thing to say that we all are guilty of it (as we all seem to be guilty of going to war with people we don't have any reason to hate).

So, here's my question to you: what relevance do your examples (tutsi/hutu, catholic protestant in NI, LA gangs) have to the debate between dand and goedel? What does dand's reference to nigeria have to do with France?

I just don't get it. I can't find a good reason why these are relevant, at all, to what's under discussion here. (Well, at least not at the level of analysis that we seem to be working on.)

Anyway, if you're just going to throw shit at each other (or me), take it to meta. If I'm just throwing shit, someone tell me so.

By the way, I'm going to call my girlfriend a straw-whacker, and see how she takes it. I'll let you know.
posted by metaculpa at 5:17 PM on November 5, 2005


I certainly feel fortunate that I live in a place where I can complain to the city about a pothole or some broken playground equipment in a park or a wrecked car and know that someone will be around to fix it or remove it, and that there's a whole system in place to address complaints about my community's needs.

If the people rioting aren't feeling that they're getting a return on their investment of time and taxes to make their lives better - and that this has been the case for decades, across generations - then I don't think that they're entirely wrong. How many protests and demonstrations would it have taken them to get their concerns actually heard and their problems addressed?

If this is what it takes to get politicians to make good on their promises (implied or explicit) that a life in France is worth working hard for and pays economic and social dividends, then this is what it takes.
posted by mdonley at 5:31 PM on November 5, 2005


What does dand's reference to nigeria have to do with France?

While I take umberage at Dand's suggestion that Nigerians are all blood thirsty tribal psychos (I'm half Igbo) I will point out that there were major Muslim riots in the Nigerian capital of Abuja during the miss world pagent in 2002. There were also many muslim/christian riots over there that year in mixed towns. (The country is basically half Muslim, half Catholic).

The comparison with France today is somewhat reasonable, although I would argue that they are more similar to American race riots in the 1960s.

That said, Dand's pedigree as an exploiter of local populations and natural resources doesn't really make him much of an expert in anything. His second comment was pretty flippant and offensive.
posted by delmoi at 5:46 PM on November 5, 2005



"Dear Sir, I am writing you with an urgent request. I know this letter will come to you as a surprise but suffice it to say I got your contact from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council who assured me you are capable and reliable to assist me in this transaction. Before I go into details, I will first introduce myself to you. I am Mr. Joseph Abudulkarim Adisa, a son to the Minister of Works and Housing of the Federation of Nigeria."


Hey, translate this: "Fandango_matt is a douche nozle".
posted by delmoi at 5:48 PM on November 5, 2005


Oh! Oh, the humanity!
posted by fandango_matt at 5:52 PM on November 5, 2005


One thing I found very interesting in conversations I had with young French men of African/North African ancestry when I was studying there in the early 90's:

If you "look French", which especially applies to those from the Berber highlands, you face much less discrimination. You are free to integrate in many of the 'non official' ways, such as entering restaurants, night clubs, and don't have police hassle you in the Metro. The young men I spoke to emphasized this again and again, as they wanted to point out the ridiculousness of French racism. So much of it is based on looks and appearances. I think that this soft-discrimination can be just as damning as the official discrimination for jobs, etc. It makes the average young person believe there is no hope-- and who will pick up the slack? Criminal gangs, religious groups, and others who excaberate the original problem.

There are quite literally millions of White French living exactly the same way as the hundreds of thousands of non-White French-- sponging off the state, beating their wives, fighting, indulging in drugs, crime, etc. But this is not seen as a crisis, of course, because at least they are "French".

There is a very bad situation in France, and yes it has to do with both the problems immigrants bring with them (refusal to adopt French ways, conform to the law) and also with the way they are treated. The French are consistently the most racist in study after study of Western Europeans, and this is, I would argue, a crisis just as large as the violence currently engulfing the State. I would hope that all could agree that the country as a whole needs to change.
posted by cell divide at 5:57 PM on November 5, 2005


I thought that translation kicked ass.
posted by shoos at 6:03 PM on November 5, 2005


posted by delmoi Hey, translate this: "Fandango_matt is a douche nozle".

Okay, sure. This translates as, "My name's delmoi, and I don't know how to use spell check."
posted by fandango_matt at 6:19 PM on November 5, 2005


Class act dhoyt continues one of his many vendettas by once more attacking a member not participating in the thread at hand. This Meta is for him.
posted by y2karl at 6:27 PM on November 5, 2005


this post is to only say that I thought fshgrl raised some interesting issues that seemed to have been lost in the noise of pointless personal vitriol.
posted by forforf at 6:46 PM on November 5, 2005


fshgrl did make some good points, as did others on a complicated topic. Alas, I came for a thread and a fight broke out.

Egos trump discussion. Meta at 11.
posted by bardic at 6:58 PM on November 5, 2005


Okay, sure. This translates as, "My name's delmoi, and I don't know how to use spell check."

Disparaging someone's spelling is the true mark of a great debater. Truly, Many historians point to Lincolns' pointing out Douglass' numerous spelling faux pas as rhetorical flourish that sealed the presidency.

You're history digging and multi-comment linking truly makes you the Circeo of metafilter.

Oh wait, no. I'm mistaken, you're just a douche nozzle. My bad.

Oh, and the comment was actualy in english. It didn't need any translation, that part was a joke!
posted by delmoi at 7:52 PM on November 5, 2005


wow, ambrosia.

My sentiments as well Andrew. I think I would have had to laugh openly at that table had I been there.

Interesting thread. A lot of good reading here.

I am baffled by how little I have seen of this on the news. I have been reading about it on the web all week, and not once caught it on the news.

Sadly, I still don't know enough of the going's on to really have a position on the situation. I will say that rioting and burning cars and shooting at the police are probably not going to get you any positive attention. It can only escelate the situation and make it worse I think.

Here's hoping level heads can get control of the madness.
posted by a3matrix at 8:20 PM on November 5, 2005


So to wrap this up: the French are wife-beating drunken junkie drug dealing hooligan racists, the Nigerians are tribal serial spammers, Australians have multicultural gardening and metafilter users are fighting. Clearly Australia wins.

fshgrl has brought some interesting issues indeed, something of that also mentioned in this article I'd been raeding earlier.

So, is it angry young males burning cars and shops in an act of desperate political protest against the system? Or only accomplishing the goal of destroying property and alienating people in their very own neighbourhoods, while handing more votes to the racists, who in turn will not make a distinction between the car burning idiots and those whose cars got burnt? Press the red button to vote...
posted by funambulist at 8:33 PM on November 5, 2005


By the by: Two of our most popular MeFites are in Paris right now cheering on the rioters. Wish 'em luck.

Huh?
posted by homunculus at 8:35 PM on November 5, 2005


I certainly feel fortunate that I live in a place where I can complain to the city about a pothole or some broken playground equipment in a park or a wrecked car and know that someone will be around to fix it or remove it, and that there's a whole system in place to address complaints about my community's needs.

Wait a minute, your profile says you live in California! What is this system for fixing broken public things you speak of?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:48 PM on November 5, 2005


So to wrap this up: the French are wife-beating drunken junkie drug dealing hooligan racists, the Nigerians are tribal serial spammers, Australians have multicultural gardening and metafilter users are fighting. Clearly Australia wins.

The french also smell.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 PM on November 5, 2005


The French do not smell. Except, perhaps, ethically and morally.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:55 PM on November 5, 2005


Everybody smells, except me, because I took a shower this morning.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:18 PM on November 5, 2005


Listen! Do you smell something?
posted by loquacious at 9:24 PM on November 5, 2005


You reap what you sow, on both sides.

Europeans allowed muslim immigration to bolster their lower level workforce with, originally say in the '50s, no intention whatsoever of having these supposedly inferior people integrate with 'normal' society. And the workers, for their part, moved in with zero intention of integrating with the supposedly morally inferior europeans; they wanted their money but not their ways. And now the current generation has to deal. Maybe they'll find a way.
posted by scheptech at 9:31 PM on November 5, 2005


scheptech wins!
posted by black8 at 10:36 PM on November 5, 2005


So, is it angry young males burning cars and shops in an act of desperate political protest against the system?
The angry young males also burned a 50 year old woman who was on crutches and could not get away from them fast enough. That's not political protest that is an attempt to intimidate.

I think it will turn out to have been organised by someone, and I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that person is associated with a particularly fundamental school and the "rioters" are former students. Call me cynical but it is way too organised and it is very odd that the rioters are avoiding clashes with police and therefore media attention, while concentrating on intimidation techniques. Also the precipitating event does not seem significant enough to have sparked off widespread, near identical protests in a series of smaller cities. These guys are operating more like a paramilitary unit, imho.
posted by fshgrl at 10:38 PM on November 5, 2005


And the workers, for their part, moved in with zero intention of integrating with the supposedly morally inferior europeans; they wanted their money but not their ways. And now the current generation has to deal. Maybe they'll find a way. posted by scheptech

I think that, at least in the case of Germany's Turkish guest workers, the intention was for them to return to Turkey after a specific period of time and work in factories there. If the guest-workers who were brought to Germany didn't have any intentions of integrating, it was because they were told at first that their presence in Germany was temporary. The situation for many 2nd or 3rd generation Turkish born in Germany is tricky--living between German western culture and the Turkish culture of their family (which is probably not the same as in modern Turkey)--many who are of Turkish descent actually speak German as their mother tongue and yet are not permitted many of the same rights as the very Germans amongst which they've lived all their life enjoy.
posted by vkxmai at 10:44 PM on November 5, 2005


The angry young males also burned a 50 year old woman who was on crutches and could not get away from them fast enough.

WTF?! That's horrifying. Do you have a link?
posted by homunculus at 10:54 PM on November 5, 2005



posted by strawberryviagra at 11:21 PM on November 5, 2005


"Attackers doused the woman, in her 50s and on crutches, with an inflammable liquid and set her afire as she tried to get off a bus in the suburb of Sevran Wednesday, judicial officials said."

Fucking bastards.
posted by homunculus at 12:18 AM on November 6, 2005


I've never heard of a riot going on for ten consecutive nights, much less one that was happening in so many cities at once: Paris, Lyon, Rouen, Toulouse, Marseille, Lille, Dijon, Trappes... Maybe "riot" isn't the right word for what's happening over there.

Oh, and in addition to hundreds of cars and several pre-schools (par for the course by now), a synagogue got fire-bombed Friday night. It won't be the last.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:51 AM on November 6, 2005


FYI, Asparagirl, after Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968, there were race riots in over 100 cities in the United States.
posted by Rothko at 1:00 AM on November 6, 2005


So, here's my question to you: what relevance do your examples (tutsi/hutu, catholic protestant in NI, LA gangs) have to the debate between dand and goedel? What does dand's reference to nigeria have to do with France?

Latter q first:

matthowie:
"like what happened in the US in the 1960s"

dand:
"More like Nigeria in the 2000s"

when challenged by Goedel on this, dand amplified:

"Nigerians are very tribal. Get a work crew from one village, put a man from another village on the crew, and he'll be in the hospital by the end of the day. Human life has little value outside one's circle."

The veracity of this statement is unknown to me, but given the Tutsi/Hutu "tribal" enmity, and eg. the historical Northern Ireland. violence between neighboring villages, and the economic friction between Koreans and blacks in Los Angeles, I think there some apropos factor to the discussion... humans can create fucked up situations that fester and erupt in violence like what we're seeing in Paris right now. I fail to see what's controversial about this observation.

I have zero clue about the riots in 2000 in Nigeria, but this:

Muslims had completed several days of joyous demonstrations in favor of Sharia. Later, Christian demonstrators had completed a peaceful demonstration at the Kaduna government house, in which they protested the imposition of Sharia. But when the Christians were returning home, they were stopped at a barricade installed by some Muslim youths. A fight broke out which expanded to a full scale riot. Churches, mosques and commercial establishments were incinerated. The army and police were able to restore order. But killings continued at a slower pace. By 2000- FEB-24, 50 deaths had been reported; the estimate appears to have been low.

might be what dand was talking about, which does appear to be more analagous to the Paris situation than the 1960s riots in the US.

It is pointless for me to get into the debate with dand and goedel (indeed, above I was just trying to get dand to clarify his remarks to resolve the apparent conflict with Goedel); I was just reacting to languagehat's mischaracterization ("stone racist") of what dand had asserted above.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:02 AM on November 6, 2005


Believers are scum. If you move to a country, integrate into their frigging culture.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:21 AM on November 6, 2005


Actually, it's unclear how religious the average rioter is. And while the rioters are to blame, this is much more the fault of French culture, society and government. It's all about the failure of French society and economics, and how scared the French are of change, and how outdated their economic model is; a corporate, statist model that should have died 30 years ago.

Are the rioters using the Internet to coordinate activities? The probably are, because the "Internet is an American invention--this would have never happened on Minitel!!!

French society deserves this. It's a small amount of payback for being weasels at the UN, and in Iraq, and in the West Bank, and Gaza, and everywhere else Arab unrest is "justified." Bet there are a number of officials in Israel with a totally appropriate smirk on their faces.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:12 AM on November 6, 2005


'Actually, it's unclear how religious the average rioter is. And while the rioters are to blame, this is much more the fault of French culture, society and government. It's all about the failure of French society and economics, and how scared the French are of change, and how outdated their economic model is; a corporate, statist model that should have died 30 years ago.'


bla bla BLA BLA BLA bla bla BLA BLA blaaaaaaaaa

Integration is NOT a franco-french issue, UK has a very different economic model and would you DARE saying they don't face the same problems.

Now seriously, everyone need to calm the fuck down a bit on the french bashing.
posted by Sijeka at 6:52 AM on November 6, 2005


Just wanted to point out that nobody has torched a car or a crippled woman yet in this trainwreck of a thread. Metafilter can be proud.

> everyone need to calm the fuck down a bit on the french bashing.

Schadenfreude'r'us. If the French weren't world champions at superciliously bashing others the temptation wouldn't be so great.
posted by jfuller at 7:04 AM on November 6, 2005


This thread is fucked up. Do Americans (the ones on this thread) seriously think that their country has things together any more than (or in fact, is any different from) the rest of the Western world?
posted by cillit bang at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2005


That's not political protest that is an attempt to intimidate.

fshgrl, I know, I was being sarcastic... I think one has to be seriously deluded to see this as a political protest or a civil rights issue. Thousands of people from those same neighbourhoods demonstrated against the violence.

When the rioters destroyed that Renault dealership, they put a hundred people out of work. Nice job in the fight against unemployment eh?
posted by funambulist at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2005


Believers are scum. If you move to a country, integrate into their frigging culture. Yeah as if it was just changing underwear ,as if the receving culture is always constructed in such a way that the adaptation process is eased or possible.

It's all about the failure of French society and economics, and how scared the French are of change, and how outdated their economic model is; a corporate, statist model that should have died 30 years ago.

Well same as right now in U.S. and it still hasn't died has it ? Or if it died, exactly with what was it replaced ? Really because we just would like to tell the french about the new fantastic model "free market" used as a parascientific religion to hide that it's the same old shit with a new flavor, New Coke so to say.

Could it be that the situation in France is both the fruit of years of interaction between many factors , some passive some other active ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2005


Yes, but the British don't *claim* not to have this problem like the French do. And the British aren't stuck in a 1970's time warp. And British society, whatever its flaws, is not the xenophobic place France is.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2005


> Could it be that the situation in France is both the fruit of years of interaction
> between many factors , some passive some other active ?

Tout comprendre, tout excuser.

To understand all is to forgive all (and solve nothing.)
posted by jfuller at 7:26 AM on November 6, 2005


And while the rioters are to blame, this is much more the fault of French culture, society and government.

That's fantastic, not even the left wing press in France is excusing the violence by blaming it on society, not least cos the rioters are hurting their own communities more than anything, but you get exactly that line of apology from the same people who hate Arabs and Muslims. A violent section within the Muslim community in France vs. French society, hmm, who are we going to hate more? France! of course! 'socialist' antiamerican France, that's an irresistible target.

French society deserves this. It's a small amount of payback for being weasels at the UN, and in Iraq, and in the West Bank, and Gaza, and everywhere else Arab unrest is "justified." Bet there are a number of officials in Israel with a totally appropriate smirk on their faces.

Is that all? go on, let it all out, we want to see more excitement! Here, a box of tissues to help clean up after you're done.
posted by funambulist at 7:27 AM on November 6, 2005


"This thread is fucked up. Do Americans (the ones on this thread) seriously think that their country has things together any more than (or in fact, is any different from) the rest of the Western world?"

Trust me: I went to France in the 1980's and early 90's ashamed of my own country. I came back very confused and shocked at how progressive and enlightened the US actually is/was.

Whatever our problems here in the US, we have nothing like what France has. Sure, we have poor people, and sure, we have bigotry, but it's not the state-sponsored, state-maintained kind in France. Especially not in urban areas. And we certainly don't have the G-d awful immigrant ghettos that France does.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:35 AM on November 6, 2005


ParisParamus, Htuttle, Dhoyt, Dand... wow, the gang's all here. Is there a French word for bukkake?
posted by psmealey at 7:42 AM on November 6, 2005


funambulist says:

> That's fantastic, not even the left wing press in France is excusing the violence
> by blaming it on society

OTOH, the (London) Sunday Times, linked above by funambulist herself, says:

> France’s media and its politicians have portrayed the rioting as a form of protest
> against poverty, racial discrimination and the desperation felt by immigrant families
> who live in the cités — the grim housing estates erected a generation ago, often near
> big factories, to accommodate a booming immigrant population.

So, funambulist, which way do you want it to be? Can't have both.
posted by jfuller at 7:45 AM on November 6, 2005


we certainly don't have the God awful immigrant ghettos that France does

You've never been to downtown Detroit then, I guess? Or East LA?
posted by meehawl at 7:45 AM on November 6, 2005


And British society, whatever its flaws, is not the xenophobic place France is.

You might want to visit a few towns in Yorkshire next time you're over. But I do take your general point - the summer of race-related rioting here was a shock. In France, not so much.

Two very intelligent kids are running from the police. Except the police aren't chasing them. They proceed to electrocute themselves. Are these riots in celebration of them posthumously receiving matching Darwin awards?

Mull this over, mullingitover: When I was last in Paris, I ended up hanging out with a bunch of scally kids after trying to score some weed from them (which they didn't have, though they were obviously quite dodgy). I think they were Algerian, non-white, anyway, and I noticed that one of them had really terrible bruises on his arms. I asked what had happened - they were skaters, so was expecting a cool anecdote about a fall off a handrail or something. One by one, the whole group showed off the same bruises - they'd been hanging out on a street corner, and a police van had pulled up alongside them, and the police jumped out and beat them up for 15 minutes straight, with batons, then just drove off again. I was stunned, they shrugged. I got the impression that if you're a non-white teenager in Paris from the suburbs and you so much as see a police car, you run like fuck and don't stop for anything.
posted by jack_mo at 8:11 AM on November 6, 2005


jfuller, oh, ok, my bad, I forgot that if I link to a three page article about the topic, I must be stamping my approval on every single paragraph in it, and that "French media and politicians" are indeed all speaking with one voice saying the same thing.

Which of course all goes to show PP is right. Please continue the America vs. France contest, I'll just cheer silently from the sidelines.
posted by funambulist at 8:11 AM on November 6, 2005


I haven't, meehawl. Could you expand on that?
posted by Captaintripps at 8:12 AM on November 6, 2005


Late in the discussion, but I think that a couple of points should be made.

First, most of the rioters (as in every other similar suburban riot that we've seen in the past 20 years) are young, very young. We're talking about teenagers here: the kids who were electrocuted last week where 15 and 17. If they have politics in their minds, it's the politics of 15-year old teenagers. While manipulation by other forces cannot be excluded (targeting businesses is certainly odd), this is basically the work of kids who find that burning things and playing cat and mouse with the cops is more entertaining than video games, at least for a while. The first day of riots may have had a "cause" (the deaths of two kids) but now it's copycat activity and competition between "cités" to see who will burn the most cars and end up on TV (yesterday, reporters were saying that they refused now to tell the names of the "cités" to prevent this sort of competition).

Now the problem is, what are these kids doing in the streets at night (often hanging around street corners or in hallways) when they should be at home with their parents? Well, there are many answers to that. One is that these parents can't / don't know how control the kids. For instance, they may have jobs that prevent them from being there for their kids (like being a cleaning woman already at work at 6am before office workers start their day) and we can thank the market forces for that. Or they have too many kids to look after them: what works fine in the country of origin (where the family network of uncles, aunts, elders etc. takes care of the kids) is impossible in the French (sub)urban society, which is organised for the standard 2-adults+2-kids family and where these networks have disappeared. Or the way the parents envision education is so at odds with what their kids are actually living (and particularly the sort of personal freedoms that one can enjoy in western societies) that the kids can't help seeing the gap. And of course these parents, who hold menial jobs when they have ones, are not exactly glamourous role models. These parents may also be undereducated and unable to help their children with their homework and such, even when they're well aware of the necessity to do so. So the kids stay in the streets, doing whatever braindead things that unsupervised, poorly-educated kids do when they're on their own (and have fantaisies about being Palestinians heroes... or Tony Montana). Girls often escape this fate because traditions keep them at home no matter what, go figure. OTHO, some traditions in Mediterranean countries tend to treat young boys as pampered kings so that they get a free pass, which doesn't help.

Of course, religious extremism, trafficking, the underlying anti-arab/anti-black racism in the French society, disenfranchisement, unemployement etc. do play a part, but at the heart of it we have the unability of some immigrant families from North Africa / Sub-saharian Africa to take care of their own children in a society so radically different from their own. It should be noted, also, that many of these families DO manage to raise their children properly in spite of all of these problems. It's a small minority that causes such mayhem.

Other than that, these kids are not different from others. 20 years ago, when I was working in Spain, my co-worker, a young catalan geek with a nasty computer addiction, talked fondly of his teenage days, when he and his buddies spent time torching French trucks for "political" reasons that went way over their heads (the French torched Spanish trucks too). He never hated the French or anything, it was just soooo much fun.
posted by elgilito at 8:24 AM on November 6, 2005


"That's fantastic, not even the left wing press in France is excusing the violence by blaming it on society"

Well, why should they? France doesn't have much of a serious "Right" to blame; even "Conservatives" in France are really just lower octane socialists. There is no true Right in France (economically, not even that wacko Le Pen is one)

The more you know about France, the more incredulous you will be about the place: the hypocrisy; the smugness; the sheepishness of the electorate. Political and social myths play a bizarrely large role in the "hexagon" (France is called that). How on earth can a Chirac still be in office in 2005?! Wasn't he a mayor in the 1970's?

Maybe some combination of the EU (which France pushed forward, only to discover it couldn't control/direct the way it did in the past), the Internet, and its perennial WEASEL foreign policy will finally bring everything down?

That's nice to contemplate.

PS: I'm not sure how good Sarkozy is, except in comparison to the status quo.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2005


And by the way, good job on ignoring what followed that paragraph:

Attacks against firefighters or ambulance crews trying to save immigrant families from the flames suggested something more perverse than despair, however, and the divided government seemed at a loss over how to deal with the problem.

And also: Several thousand Aulnay residents, singing the national anthem, took to the streets yesterday demanding just that [restoring law and order]

That there is a debate on the underlying situation of unemployment, poverty, racism, discrimination, lawlessness, etc., or on how inflammatory the Interior Minister remarks were, does not necessarily mean the violence itself is being blamed on the rest of society -- again, also because everyone can see it is targeted at other people in those same areas with those same problems (it's not like they were burning cars and shops in richer white-only neighbourhoods, is it?) so assigning it a value of political protest is not such a linear proposition. That's been pointed out on very left wing papers like Libération too, they had interviews with local representatives stressing just how self-destructive the riots have been.

And, my point was simply that it's very ironic to see right wingers who usually abhor that "it's society's fault!" reasoning resorting to it purely for schadenfreude and the usual French-bashing.
posted by funambulist at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2005


Could you expand on that

Many of Europe's run-down inner cities were colonised by economic refugees from poorer Southern areas around the mid-part of the 20th century. Because they generally came from areas that historically tended to experience more hours of more intense sun, their phenotypes express as darker skin shades. Today, their 2nd, 3rd, etc descendents find themselves still socially constrained because of institutional racism and the predictable resistance of emplaced interest groups to divvying out a pie perceived as finite. In addition, these enduring ghettos are now faced with new waves of 1st generation migrants competing with them for economic opportunities that have been reduced in scope and frequency in recent decades because of globalisation. The growth and urban control of US ghettos mirrors quite closely the growth of European ghettos during similar time periods. This is hardly surprising, given their similar economic development and political elites. Both resulted as a consequence of the mass migration of poor agrarian workers fleeing pervasive serfdom within southern "colonies".
In historical terms, the rise of the black ghetto—a massive, geographically continuous, isolated place of almost exclusively black residence and institutional life—is a recent phenomenon ... Its emergence occurred in stages; the first occupied the half century between 1880 and 1930, and the second—after a brief respite early in the Great Depression—extended from 1935 to at least 1970 ... The vast expanses of almost exclusively black settlement that exploded on the national scene during the riotous 1960s were twentieth-century northern creations. On the eve of the great migration of southern blacks, northern cities, proportionately, held infinitesimal black populations.
posted by meehawl at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2005


Do Americans (the ones on this thread) seriously think that their country has things together any more than (or in fact, is any different from) the rest of the Western world?

Our riot control is probably better trained--that is to say, our method is more effective: encircle the problem area, let no one in or out, and "let the animals kill themselves" like we saw in New Orleans. If innocents happen to be caught in the maelstrom, well, causualties of war and all that.

It's all about the failure of French society and economics

Please. The Brits have their own problems with Pakastani relations, and even our "superior" society and economics didn't do shit to stop what happened after Katrina.

The way I see it, capitalist societies just aren't able to deal with the subsequent results of extreme social disparity between haves and have-nots. And this is what you get. Expect a lot more of this to come.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:43 AM on November 6, 2005


Oh, and excellent analysis, elgilito.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:44 AM on November 6, 2005


what I was trying to say, and lh may have tried to get my back for

Yeah, and I agree with your take on it, which was phrased much more diplomatically than mine. Heywood, I apologize for being a dick (especially unbecoming since I'd just been complaining about Goedel's dickosity), but I really can't stand smug prejudice and I felt you were exhibiting it. You reacted very mildly, and I appreciate it. Also, the subject of this thread is freaking me out. Setting fire to a woman on crutches? What the hell is going on over there?

elgilito: Excellent comment, but it sure looks like somebody is taking advantage of the kids' free-floating anomie and love of mischief/violence/publicity and manipulating them for political purposes. This isn't just random weirdness.
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on November 6, 2005


elgilito: thanks for adding something really insightful.
posted by funambulist at 8:47 AM on November 6, 2005


Oh and I just want to add I very very strongly agree with this specific little bit of truth: OTHO, some traditions in Mediterranean countries tend to treat young boys as pampered kings so that they get a free pass, which doesn't help.
posted by funambulist at 8:51 AM on November 6, 2005


I hope more people now understand why open borders are bad. More immigrants than jobs eventually leads to this.
posted by StarForce5 at 8:56 AM on November 6, 2005


More immigrants than jobs eventually leads to this

What if we make sterilisation mandatory for all immigrants?
posted by meehawl at 9:04 AM on November 6, 2005


Actually, on thinking further regarding StarForce5's insight, perhaps making sterilisation mandatory for all long-term unemployed is a solution to society's ills? I am off to freerepublic and lgf to share my breakthrough...
posted by meehawl at 9:06 AM on November 6, 2005


Languagehat: but it sure looks like somebody is taking advantage of the kids' free-floating anomie and love of mischief/violence/publicity and manipulating them for political purposes.

It's hard to see who could be benefitting from that at a global level. Religious extremists have been trying hard in the last years to show a "respectable" profile as they are in the crosshairs of counter-terrorism. Drug traffickers don't really enjoy seeing their businesses disrupted by the police. In the past, right-wingers have been accused of being agent provocateurs though I don't really believe that.

At local level, this could be different. Riots could be used to settle old scores: there are long standing turf wars and inter-cités rivalries, and perhaps some people think that this or that business should be punished (some inhabitants are claiming that some of the businesses are only there for the reduced taxes). But frankly a lot of it seems random, just idiot young males wanting some action and preying on the weakest and easiest targets, like buses and schools. The woman who was set on fire (herself a Muslim, btw) is a typical victim of drive-by violence.

Also, it should be noted that the French society has a strong (and weird) tolerance for rioting. These kids are torching down their own neighbourhood (or their neighbours' neighbourhoods), but other groups, like farmers, fishermen and truckers have been rioting, destroying property and molesting people for decades, sometimes even more violently than the kids here, and the courts (and the political powers) have been relatively complacent.
posted by elgilito at 9:19 AM on November 6, 2005


> my point was simply that it's very ironic to see right wingers who usually abhor that
> "it's society's fault!" reasoning resorting to it purely for schadenfreude and
> the usual French-bashing.

I understand one's sense of irony is sharpened when the shoe moves to the other foot. But last time I checked, turnabout was considered fair play.
posted by jfuller at 9:32 AM on November 6, 2005


Starforce5, please read a thread before you drop your turds in it. The point has been made that France is suffering not so much from open borders as from building an economy on the backs of illegal/non-documented labor for decades, and then basically not admitting it has a problem with economic disparity that fuels ethnic and religious tensions. It's similar to America, but simple logic dictates you go after the demand, not the supply. Immigrants wouldn't choose to live below the radar if they didn't have to, but if someone is willing to pay them under the table they'll continue to take the chance of being deported.

You sound like the type of asshole who blames the worker rather than the contractor who does't want to pay a minumum wage.
posted by bardic at 9:55 AM on November 6, 2005


Huh? Illegals play a small or insignificant part in France's labor market. These are French nationals and/or legal "greencard" holders who are part of a working class with very little upward mobility.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:59 AM on November 6, 2005


ParisParamus, Htuttle, Dhoyt, Dand... wow, the gang's all here. Is there a French word for bukkake?

I think someone posted it in one of the Abu Ghraib threads... and possibly the one about the Fallujan contractors. Check there.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:02 AM on November 6, 2005


"Also, it should be noted that the French society has a strong (and weird) tolerance for rioting ...complacent."

Very good point. This situation will be "serious" when people start getting killed.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:03 AM on November 6, 2005


This just in. It's not so isolated any longer.
posted by bardic at 10:03 AM on November 6, 2005


Long live the intifada

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
posted by TetrisKid at 10:10 AM on November 6, 2005


ParisParamus, Htuttle, Dhoyt, Dand... wow, the gang's all here. Is there a French word for bukkake?

It's bukkaké — at least, that's what I heard from an authority in molecular pornography.
posted by Rothko at 10:41 AM on November 6, 2005


I don't think this has (had?) much to do with Islam. Attempts to make it so from reactionaries on both side are EXACTLY the wrong thing.

And I agree with Paris. I too went to France for a semester of study (on Middle Eastern issues, actually) and was shocked by how progressive and tolerant Americans were as a whole when compared with the French. Racism may exist in equal parts all over the globe, but some societies tolerate it and in other places it's not acceptable. In France it is acceptable.

Perhaps it may have taken the kind of riots and unrest that America has experienced to teach the nation a thing or two about itself, and for the underclass to see where the limits are? That sounds awful, and I'm not advocating that, but just wondering out loud why this type of problem is so common all over the world.
posted by cell divide at 11:21 AM on November 6, 2005


bardic, so you think it's intelligent for a country with constant 10% unemployment rate to import more people? Thank god you're not in charge of anything important.
posted by StarForce5 at 12:12 PM on November 6, 2005


I, too am tempted to say that Islam only plays a secondary role in this, but whether it's 49% or 20% is unclear. But I really do think there is something about Islam, and the cultures associated with it that is not very compatible with a modern, market economy. It has to do with the inability to accept change, and think for oneself. Judaism is at the other extreme, with Christianity somewhere in between (to anticipate criticism of this view, yes, there are rigid, dogmatic Jews, but there are more ways for them to "opt out" of such; not sure that's the case with Muslims).

So, when you mix the cultural rigidity and conservatism of the French, with the cultural and religious rigidity of Islamic immigrants, "bad stuff happens."
posted by ParisParamus at 12:42 PM on November 6, 2005


StarForce5, who is importing people? France is very anti-immigration, and has been for at least 20 years.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:43 PM on November 6, 2005


elgilito : well written but there are points I'd like to discuss

At the heart of it we have the unability of some immigrant families from North Africa / Sub-saharian Africa to take care of their own children in a society so radically different from their own.

At the heart of what ? Of the ongoing France mayhem ? That would be ridicolous : hundreds of thousand of parents
are guilty of being unable or unwilling to take proper care of their childrens and to supervise their activities, yet I haven't seen mass scale riots happening daily, as they should if poor parenting was the primary cause of the ongoing arsons in France.

There's no denial of personal responsability, but while some responsabilites are flagrant as they easily offer smoking gun evidence some other are less evident, but far more dangerous. For instance one could ask what's more dangerous, a divisionist agenda fueled by some politician or religious "leader"... or a boy with twisted ideas, unscrupolous or absent parents ,easily manipulated by unscrupolous adults or drown into fundamentally racist ideologies ?

For instance take the effects of a vicious anti-communist propaganda: there are still people in the west who
call other people "communist" or, generally speaking, political names ; they still identify somebody with certain behavior as "enemy" and would do anything to stop them, including having people believe a certain "group" is the source of problems. Some other, aware of the dynamics of blame attribution, are far less ideologized but seek to obtain advantages or to distract attention. Obviously every one would and will try to distance themselves from the current events, but that as predictable as the kid saying "it wasn't me" hoping not to get caught..only these are not kids.

Indeed a simple casual turf war may be happening caused by a concomitance of circumstances and expanded by copycat attitudes as you suggest ; but it requires a divisionist background, an hooligan mentality that is mostly learned and that prays on human psycological and rational logical weakness and shortcoming.

Tthere may not be a political agenda behind that but I still don't buy into the idea the blame is primarily to be put on bad parenting, as if other factors were only marginal in preparing the background for an event.
posted by elpapacito at 1:06 PM on November 6, 2005


ParisParamus, France is anti-immigration in terms of granting citizenship status but still has allowed in more "guest workers" than the economy could absorb.
posted by StarForce5 at 1:09 PM on November 6, 2005


But I really do think there is something about Islam, and the cultures associated with it that is not very compatible with a modern, market economy.

Then how do you explain Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, to name just a few large Muslim countries off the top of my head? Obviously there are problems like corruption (as there are in many non-Muslim countries), but these are all market economies, I believe. It has nothing to do with religion; it's a complicated mix of culture and history. If you want an Islamic view of the matter, try here:
What of the charge that Islam is closer to socialism that to capitalism? This claim does not withstand critical examination. Socialism is, after all, defined as state ownership of the means of production. There is nothing in the shariah to justify state ownership of the means of production. The perception of a similarity between Islam and socialism is entirely due to the Islamic institution of zakat (obligatory alms of 2.5% on net worth annually) and prohibition of ribâ. But the purpose of zakat is the "purification" of wealth, not its confiscation. Zakat is fixed at 2 1/2% of accumulated wealth. It is small enough to leave most of the wealth in the hands of the most productive while offering the poorest the means to become productive themselves. It is in no way a limitation of wealth--the assessment does not increase no matter how much total wealth the individual has accumulated. At the same time it is not regressive because those without subsistence are exempt.
Paris, you're a smart guy (which is why I'm bothering to discuss this with you, unlike the many who consider you a troll or worse); I wish you wouldn't settle for easy prejudices. You clearly don't know very much about Islam, which is fine—most Americans don't. But then why make pronouncements about it?
posted by languagehat at 1:53 PM on November 6, 2005


Paris, I would actually posit that of the 3 major religions, Islam is at its heart most compatible with a market economy. There are numerous ways to point to this, but perhaps starting point would be that the religion's founder was a merchant and trader.

Furthermore, people from Islamic countries often thrive when outside of their home countries. Iraqis, Lebanese, and Palestinians and others are millionaire and billionaire capitalists in Africa, South America, Europe and the US.

It seems the problem is the downward spiral of society, and the despotic rulers who siezed power, rather then the religion itself.
posted by cell divide at 2:52 PM on November 6, 2005


What is that map TetrisKid? It looks either fake or amazingly extreme. Do you know much about the origin of it or who made it?
posted by Dean Keaton at 3:02 PM on November 6, 2005


El papacito: I haven't seen mass scale riots happening daily, as they should if poor parenting was the primary cause of the ongoing arsons in France.

Fortunately, mass scale riots don't happen every day, but small stuff is happening every day and just doesn't make the headlines. It's been going on for a couple of decades now. Now I will agree that my explanation is simplistic, but then some of the arsonists of last night were 9-13 year old. WTF? These kids have been left alone. We see the parents, who are hapless and desperate, as they don't understand what got into their kids. My feeling is that we need to help the parents first. Is it the only factor? Certainly not, but I have myself an immigrant background and the kids in my family, some of us brought up in the same ugly suburbs, were never let free to roam the streets.

About the political agenda, some sort of "firebomb factory" was just found so it's well possible now that some of the kids are not operating alone (which doesn't rule out a local turf war).
posted by elgilito at 3:55 PM on November 6, 2005


Well, I withdraw my comment about Islam. There must be some other dynamic at work here. Perhaps it is all the horrid French state--it's what drove ME to leave after all ;- )
posted by ParisParamus at 4:49 PM on November 6, 2005


What does dand's reference to nigeria have to do with France?

They are both places where law and order has broken down. I happen to have been in the first place to observe. Pick another place if you like: say, Siberia if your hung up.

One question might be the likelihood of a similar problem in the US. Its interesting the riots in LA were mentioned: Here are some stats from LA:

In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.

And some video of CA sheriffs talking about illegal immigration population in local prison:


Sheriff Sherman Block says in a 1995 clip that illegal immigrants make up 16% of the L.A. County jail population - costing $50- to $70-million a year.

Sheriff Lee Baca says in a 2002 clip that illegal immigrants make up 23% of the L.A. County inmates.

And Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona says in a recent 2005 clip that 14% of OC inmates are illegal immigrants.

posted by dand at 6:51 PM on November 6, 2005


Apparently the rioting got worse this evening?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:28 PM on November 6, 2005


"What we notice is that the bands of youths are, little by little, getting more organized," arranging attacks through cell phone text messages and learning how to make gasoline bombs, Hamon said.
posted by homunculus at 9:17 PM on November 6, 2005


I bopped by freeperland and found the following gem: "This is just the beginning," said Moussa Diallo, 22.
The french cops need to follow NYPD procedure in dealing with 22 year olds named Diallo.

WTFuckingF?
posted by goofyfoot at 11:05 PM on November 6, 2005


Dand, I'm not hung up, I just don't get it. Everything you've said so far seems like a non-sequitor to me. France right now is nothing like Nigeria, except that non-white people are involved. I mean, law and order broke down in the post-bellum south, but that's hardly an argument why it's a relevant historical exemplar here.

With regard to illegal immigrants: please stop reading sites like that. They are bad for you, and only exist to lie in an appealing way. I promise.

You know, I really don't know how to argue with you on this. Anyway, elgilito is my new best friend for writing so well.
Let's all go read everything he's written again, and then go to bed and try not to hate anyone in the morning.

Between burning that woman on crutches, the freepers wanting 41 bullets in everyone, and this bullshit.. christ.
This brings out the best of us, don't it.

On the bright side, googling Full Disclosure led me to a nice page on modern architecture, whose first two images I adore: here.
posted by metaculpa at 12:18 AM on November 7, 2005


Oh! It's elgilito of the ludicrously good cg. My congratulations on being multiply awesome.
posted by metaculpa at 12:33 AM on November 7, 2005


"Attackers doused the woman, in her 50s and on crutches, with an inflammable liquid and set her afire as she tried to get off a bus in the suburb of Sevran Wednesday, judicial officials said."

Fucking bastards.


I've read a few articles from french news sites that say it was actually a man with a walker trying to get off that bus along with all the other passengers and not a woman the rioters specifically targeted & set on fire. They reported the bus was set on fire, and the man was not able to escape fast enough and was subsequently burned.
posted by zarah at 2:30 AM on November 7, 2005


The boys: "When we speak, no one listens to us - this is the only way we have of making ourselves heard. We want Mr Sarkozy to resign, or the violence will continue. .. We don't think we'll ever get jobs."

The girls: "They shouldn't burn cars - that won't solve our problems. ... We know that despite everything, we will be achieve something. We are confident that in 10 years' time, we will have found good jobs."
posted by funambulist at 2:41 AM on November 7, 2005


The French should have NYC-like police; actually, the CRS, or whatever they call them now can be pretty tough, but the French have no resolve. Politically, they are weasels, but also wimps.

On some level, these kids are the only people left in France who aren't sheep.

I predict this will end in the next few days. And the government will think they did something right, whereas they just lucked out.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:57 AM on November 7, 2005


On some level, these kids are the only people left in France who aren't sheep.

Yeah, those young males bursting with arsonist rebellion, they're so sexy, aren't they? Very street and urban. Burning cars and nurseries is the new punk!

It's the return of antiglobalist riot chic, but without the middle class kids. Fashion labels are already salivating.
posted by funambulist at 4:27 AM on November 7, 2005


Then how do you explain Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, to name just a few large Muslim countries off the top of my head? . . . You clearly don't know very much about Islam, which is fine—most Americans don't.

Christ, if you're going to be a condescending ass, at least get your own facts straight: by no definition is Singapore a "Muslim country" (unless America is also a "Hispanic country"). In fact it is the majority ethnic (Buddhist) Chinese who by far run, characterize and dominate the political and economic infrastructures of Singapore.

Also, to a lesser, but still pivotal, extent, the (non-Muslim) Chinese minorities of Indonesia and Malaysia still run and maintain the economies of those countries . . . and have been consistently thanked for it with pogroms.
posted by dgaicun at 4:58 AM on November 7, 2005


FWIW - a French poster on another board says that the story of the disabled woman being doused with gasoline and set on fire is 99% false. The woman was on a bus which was set on fire; she was at first unable to leave it (because she was on crutches), but eventually was taken off by the bus driver and suffered "only" first degree burns.

Kind of like the 7 year old girl in the New Orleans Convention Center who had her throat cut in the bathroom.
posted by Eyebeams at 5:05 AM on November 7, 2005


One really curious side to this is about the issue of assimilation. Some of the comments here have asserted that the tension is because the immigrants have refused to assimililate and, in particular, have retained very conservative ideas about gender, sex and morality.

But when watching the news, one of the most commonly mentioned examples of overt racism in France is not allowing darkskinned people into clubs. So...these kids want to go to dance clubs (full of loud music and gyrating bodies - much too shocking for a nerd like me), but are barred at the door for the colour of their skin, and they are rioting because they are too morally conservative to get on with French culture?

In Toronto, I once saw universty students riot and smash historic doors because their tuition was being increased (by about 10-20%, quite a lot, but still). If I had been constantly denied equal participation in society by my name and skin colour, let alone been harassed and beaten by police, I doubt I would have any respect for that society either. Of course, they are responsible for their own choices - but the rest of us shouldn't be surprised that respect is a two way street, and people who are allowed no stake in society will have no good reason to abide by its rules.
posted by jb at 5:18 AM on November 7, 2005


Also - a fatwa against the riots has been called. From this BBC article:
Muslim leaders of African and Arab communities have also issued a fatwa, or religious order, against the riots.

"It is strictly forbidden for any Muslim... to take part in any action that strikes blindly at private or public property or that could threaten the lives of others," the fatwa by the Union of Islamic Organisations in France said.
posted by jb at 5:23 AM on November 7, 2005


"It is strictly forbidden for any Muslim... to take part in any action that strikes blindly at private or public property or that could threaten the lives of others,"

Unless JEWS are involved.

I read in the paper this morning that baseball bats were used to assault police officers.

Wait a minute. BASEBALL BATS? George Bush once owned the Texas Rangers! It's obvious the CIA has fomented this whole thing in France as revenge for France's "role" in the Iraq War!!!!!!!!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:31 AM on November 7, 2005


Vive le CIA! Le AIC?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:43 AM on November 7, 2005


Paris - I don't think the quote specifically mentions that it is okay to still go out and assault any specific faith. Please don't use a dislike of one particular religion to make sweeping statements with no factual basis, it does you no credit.

p.s. what's with the capitalisation JEWS?
posted by longbaugh at 5:50 AM on November 7, 2005


by no definition is Singapore a "Muslim country"

Yeah, that was sloppy of me -- it's so easy to lump it in with the nearby countries. Consider it deleted.

As for the insults, I guess you're still seething over some debate we had a few years ago. My friendly advice: let it go. Resentment hurts the resenter, not the resented.
posted by languagehat at 5:59 AM on November 7, 2005


A little further info for you Paris - this article from time dated Nov '03 states -

"Statistics show a marked rise in anti-Semitic acts from the autumn of 2000 to late 2002, and a considerable dip over the last year or so."

I am not sure about the more recent figures (and I am supposedly at work so don't have the freedom to do so) but if that downward trend has continued I think you are definitely barking up the wrong tree. My understanding is that anti-semitic acts are far more common in Spain where the majority of people (96%) are of the Roman Catholic faith.
posted by longbaugh at 6:29 AM on November 7, 2005


It's obvious the CIA has fomented this whole thing in France as revenge for France's "role" in the Iraq War

Yeah it really sounds like a popular palatable conspiracy theory, but I wouldn't blame the "poor" CIA for a clearly amateur work : I mean come on that's old style CIA inciting revolt against "communists" in latin america , communists to be found only among masses. These days one trains wingnut to slam planes into buildings not cars into McDonalds and setting some stuff on fire ! That's clearly NOT a CIA retortion work, stop blaming Bush !
posted by elpapacito at 9:11 AM on November 7, 2005


longbaugh: My understanding is that anti-semitic acts are far more common in Spain where the majority of people (96%) are of the Roman Catholic faith.

Uh?! I must wonder where you have got that idea from. Anti-semitic acts are actually very rare in Spain. I must say, not because of my compatriots being inherently less anti-semitic than others (in fact, Franco had a good line in anti-semitic invective), but because in Spain there are hardly any Jews to be anti-semitic against. The Inquisition took care of that, a few centuries ago. Not even the odd Jewish cemetery left to desecrate, which must be very frustrating for budding Spanish neo-Nazis...

As for Spain's proferred Catholicism...let me just say that your stats aren't probably all too fresh.

Anyway, those rioting youths in the French banlieue are about as Muslim as P. Diddy (or whatever his current name is) is Christian, anyway. They take their inspiration from Tupac, not Osama.
posted by Skeptic at 2:08 PM on November 7, 2005


http://sicsa.huji.ac.il/15spain.html

the alliance between Franco’s faction and Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War opened the way for the emergence of racist antisemitism in the Spanish Right. It was during the 1960s that the first Spanish neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups appeared, the principal one being CEDADE ... Any research on the European extreme Right should take into consideration the significance of Spanish neo-Nazism. CEDADE, for example, has been an important organization — not because of the number of militants or votes it can muster — but because of its thirty years of activity. Such a long stay on the political scene was unusual among neo-Nazi organizations in Europe and the United States since 1945.

CEDAD is now dissolved, but anti-semitism remains quite virulent in Spain as an active political discourse among both hard right and hard left parties, though not often expressed as public acts by virtue of the scarcity of Jewish Spaniards.
posted by meehawl at 2:20 PM on November 7, 2005


longbaugh, the capitalization is to mock the whole thing; to make it over the top.

I find it hard to believe that antisemitic acts are more pervasive in Spain than France. Show me some proof.

(on an unrelated note, it's probably more difficult to avoid pork and shellfish in Spain than France, but that's not antisemitic....)
posted by ParisParamus at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2005


"Paris - I don't think the quote specifically mentions that it is okay to still go out and assault any specific faith. Please don't use a dislike of one particular religion to make sweeping statements with no factual basis, it does you no credit."

Come on.....SATIRE, anyone?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:38 PM on November 7, 2005


"It is strictly forbidden for any Muslim... to take part in any action that strikes blindly at private or public property or that could threaten the lives of others,"

Unless JEWS are involved.


So if Muslim leaders don't decry acts of violence, that's bad, but you complain when they do decry acts of violence?

If you've already made up your mind that all Muslims are evil, that's fine. Just don't complain if people call you prejudiced because, you know, you are pre-judging.
posted by jb at 2:40 PM on November 7, 2005


meehawl, I was speaking about "anti-semitic acts" indeed. And there aren't many.

And while there is of course some residual anti-semitism in Spanish culture, I wouldn't call it "virulent". The likes of CEDADE never had much of a following (a few hundred people, at the most), and in fact the way Franco used to blame all of Spain's ills onto the "Jewish-Masonic conspiracy" turned that sort of anti-semitism into a public joke.

The number of far right parties in Spain is a consequence of their fragmentation, not their weight. Most of them are basically one man and his dog, and none of them stand the glimmer of a chance of getting parliamentary representation, even at regional level. And I frankly don't know where in the far left you have found anti-semitism...unless, of course, you are equating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism...
posted by Skeptic at 2:43 PM on November 7, 2005


jb, get a grip. It's good that local leaders decry violence.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:44 PM on November 7, 2005


anti-Zionism IS antisemitism.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2005


Most of them are basically one man and his dog

And why is that dog still on the loose?? Dammit, even the dogcatchers are anti-Semitic!
posted by languagehat at 2:52 PM on November 7, 2005


"anti-Zionism IS antisemitism"

If for the simple reason that most "anti-Zionists" are virulently anti-semitic. Whatever is in your heart, you don't go there and inevitably ally yourself with wacko Iranians, Fatah, Hamas, et al.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:20 PM on November 7, 2005


This video, in my opinion, via LittleGreenFootballs.com, suggests that these kids are no fanatics, and that, if not excusable, their conduct is, at least understandable. It brings back the nightmare that is Post-WWII French residential housing and urban planning....

My French perceives one of the interviewees referring to Jerusalem?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:32 PM on November 7, 2005


If you go HERE, you can watch the most recent French evening news, which, I suspect, shows some good footage of the mahem. And an add to buy a share in France's nuclear electric reactors with two typical young French people--now that brings back memories of why I left Paramus in the first place!
posted by ParisParamus at 3:57 PM on November 7, 2005


"anti-Zionism IS antisemitism"

If for the simple reason that most "anti-Zionists" are virulently anti-semitic.


"Most" anti-Zionists are? Does that then mean that you accept that some aren't? And if some anti-Zionists aren't anti-semitic, then how can anti-Zionism be antisemitism? You aren't making any sense, PP.

I despise any sort of mindless nationalism, and Zionism is mindless nationalism of the worst sort, with a sprinkling of religious idiocy on top (you know, "promised land" and all that). Allow me to be anti-Zionist without associating myself in any way to the other brands of mindless nationalists and religious idiots opposing Zionism for their own stupid reasons, and without falling into hatred against anybody based on his race or religion.
posted by Skeptic at 3:59 PM on November 7, 2005


What is Zionism, anyway? Zionism was something before there was an Israel. Now there is one, so I don't understand.

There is a small group of very Orthodox Jews that don't recognize the legitimacy of Israel because the state was created by men, rather than G-d, the appearance of the Messiah, whatever. But unless you're such a person, there is a stong, huge presumption that being anti-Israel = antisemitic, de facto, if not de jure.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:16 PM on November 7, 2005


You've got that backwards, PP, as I'm sure you know.
Anti-Arab racism is a major problem in modern Europe. Blaming "French Socialism" for it is patently ridiculous. Obviously socialism has always opposed racism, and vice versa. The Right, on the other hand, has always stirred up racism and implemented policies that cause it, such as ghettoization, for example.

As for your points about Zionism (which were off-topic and linked only by your evident hatred of Muslims, but still): Generally, anti-racist campaigners are opposed to the creation of racially segregated, apartheid states. It's not really seen as a good solution to the problem of racism.

It's pretty universally accepted, therefore, by everyone other than rightwing ideologues, that Zionism is both racist and anti-Semitic.

As to why you hate the French socialist model so much, I suspect your pain is personal in nature. Perhaps a French girl broke your heart? Or are you just jealous of our longer holidays, better food and wine, and shorter working hours?
posted by cleardawn at 4:24 PM on November 7, 2005


Or is it the better healthcare and longer life expectancy? Or just the higher average level of education the French enjoy compared to Americans?

Or the fact that when somebody shoots at the police in France, it's international news, whereas in America the police are shot at day in, day out, in every one of the racially-divided cities you exist in?
posted by cleardawn at 4:28 PM on November 7, 2005


PP: I don't have anything about the idea of Israel, my objection is against it being a "Jewish state", which is what Zionism means. Mainly because it implies that Jewish citizens of Israel are more equal than non-Jewish citizens (never mind non-Jewish non-citizens, even those who have been living for generations on earth that suddenly became "Jewish"), and that somebody from Brooklyn or Irkutsk claiming a distant Jewish ancestry can have a better chance of being allowed to live in it than somebody who was born there and whose parents and grandparents lived there.

Civil rights based on ancestry or religion are something hateful, and, BTW completely un-America. But it's of course the same sort of idiocy that afflicts the citizenship laws of Germany...
posted by Skeptic at 4:33 PM on November 7, 2005


"Obviously socialism has always opposed racism, and vice versa. The Right, on the other hand, has always stirred up racism and implemented policies that cause it, such as ghettoization, for example."

Yeah, sure, just as Soviet society was classless, and didn't have poor people, and didn't have discrimination. Sure.

The French have created a superwelfare state that dolls out privileges and benefits in a discriminatory manner; it also makes social mobility low-to-non-existent. France has BIG economic ghettos. If you're poor or marginal working class, you have a very small chance of moving up. That's why France has its multi-generational ghettos in banlieu; and why (well, one of the reasons) contempt for France's social system is appropriate.

Personal trauma causing my France-phobia? To a small extent, inevitably. But it doesn't disqualify me from offering something in this discussion; it's hard to have up-close contact with something without some personal involvement.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:35 PM on November 7, 2005


Skeptic, if most of the world was a pluralistic as the US or Canada, I might be as troubled as you are by Israel being the "Jewish State." But since thew world is not, and since someone who is not Jewish can fare a whole lot better in Israel than most minorities fare elsewhere, I think that's a debate what serves no purpose (assuming it ever will).
posted by ParisParamus at 4:44 PM on November 7, 2005


What's a "superwelfare state"? What is "discriminatory" about the French model, exactly?

From what I've seen, it isn't the system that's the problem, it's more the individual French people who continue to be racist. That's the reason so few Muslims get good jobs, nice apartments, and so on. Landlords won't rent to Arabs. Employers won't hire them. Teachers expect them to fail. Police assault them and arrest them and fabricate evidence against them out of personal racism.

It isn't the system's fault as such - it's not like in Israel, where there is literally one law for Arabs and another for Jews. In France, there is one law for everyone, but it's just that the system, or perhaps the culture, hasn't got (yet) any good mechanism for addressing individual racism.

Le Pen is part of the problem, of course. Imagine if the KKK was getting 25% of the vote in US elections, and you can see how that might lead to tensions.

The biggest single problem, which people talk about all the time, is the large percentage of racist police officers. If they can be better trained (and some severely punished) after these riots, and perhaps more minority officers recruited and promoted, then that will surely be a very good thing.
posted by cleardawn at 5:08 PM on November 7, 2005


you are equating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism

I most certainly amy not, but I do think that some people allow their anti-Zionism to tinge into anti-Semitism. Having been accused of being anti-Semitic on many occasions, it is something I am sensitive to.

it also makes social mobility low-to-non-existent

And your sociology degree is from where exactly? The one key difference between the US and other industrialised nations is that a much higher percentage of the poor in the US honestly believe that if they work hard enough, they can get rich, and their chance of getting rich is greater in the US than anywhere else. This is contrary to actual experience, but it undoubtedly a convenient fiction that enhances social cohesion and reducing inter-class tensions.

You're actually right though. France's social mobility is rather low... for a European country. It's certainly lower than Ireland or the Nordic regions, but above the southern mediterranean regions. In fact, France's social mobility is about equivalent to the United States. Well done US!
The recent increases in inequality have not been offset by any increase in mobility. 21 Thus, the disparity in economic rewards is increasing, while there has been no positive change in the openness or availability of those rewards to everyone in the population. There is also no evidence that mobility is significantly different in the United States than it is in other countries. This suggests that the United States has not only the highest year-to-year inequality in the industrialized world, but also likely has the highest lifetime inequality among similar countries.
One surprising finding about mobility is that it is not higher in the United States than in Britain or France. It is lower here than in Canada and some Scandinavian countries but not as low as in developing countries like Brazil, where escape from poverty is so difficult that the lower class is all but frozen in place ... The United States differs from Europe in ways that can gum up the mobility machine. Because income inequality is greater here, there is a wider disparity between what rich and poor parents can invest in their children. Perhaps as a result, a child's economic background is a better predictor of school performance in the United States than in Denmark, the Netherlands or France, one recent study found.
A careful comparison reveals that the USA and Britain are at the bottom with the lowest social mobility. Norway has the greatest social mobility, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Germany is around the middle of the two extremes, and Canada was found to be much more mobile than the UK.
Thus the picture that emerges is that Northern Europe and Canada are particularly mobile and that Britain and the US have the lowest intergenerational mobility across the European and North American countries studied here. The USA is seen by some as a place with particularly high social mobility. In part this is a consequence of using measures of class to estimate mobility (these will be affected by changes in the class structure over time).
posted by meehawl at 6:51 PM on November 7, 2005


Generally, anti-racist campaigners are opposed to the creation of racially segregated, apartheid states.

But they are just fine with calls for genocide, as long as they are directed at those "bad" states, right?


It's pretty universally accepted, therefore, by everyone other than rightwing ideologues, that Zionism is both racist and anti-Semitic.

By who, these guys? And your support for this "universal acceptance" is a link to someone's blog?

I'm sure there are people out there who sincerely wish to critique the state of Israel without hidden anti-Semitic ambitions, but judging by the drivel you tend to spew, you are not one of them.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:04 PM on November 7, 2005


I'm sorry, but your annoying HREF banners not withstanding, I find it hard to believe that norway has enough working and lower-middle class people to be the highest in social mobility. That seems suspect to me. And what's "class," in this context?

This isn't a discussion about US v. France, so much as one about why, in France, there is a large and growing segment of the population that lives a most hellish life with no apparent way out.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:44 PM on November 7, 2005


Provided the mobility gets you suffiiciently above the poverty line, I really don't care much about inequality. In fact, I would even argue that inquality can be a good thing because talent should be rewarded, and more talented people should make more money.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:56 PM on November 7, 2005


Disclaimer: As a citizen of the U.S. and a self-advowed liberal, I hereby renounce and abhor all forms of violence, including arson, and further declare that incinerating any sentient being—male, female, French, not, human, not—is abhorrent. (v. sad that this seems necessary but here we are)

I propose that the riots in France are a consequence of U.S.-Republican-style social philosophy: mandatory assimilation and rejection of "multi-culturalism," "affirmative action," or any other method of accommodating minorities.

Discuss.
posted by vetiver at 9:18 PM on November 7, 2005


"Asked on TF1 television whether the army should be brought in, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said, “We are not at that point.”


Well, when does that point arrive? Having to call in the Armée would be bad, since it would write FAILURE in big LETTRES MAJESCULES.

But I do hope that Weasel de Villepin is run from office--what sweet satisfaction that would be!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:39 PM on November 7, 2005


PP This isn't a discussion about US v. France, so much as one about why, in France, there is a large and growing segment of the population that lives a most hellish life with no apparent way out.

You mean, like these people? Man, what a short memory some people have...

But since thew world is not, and since someone who is not Jewish can fare a whole lot better in Israel than most minorities fare elsewhere

Yes, the life in the occupied territories is a barrel of laughs. Those entertaining checkpoints, those helpful settler neighbours... I really don't understand why I haven't moved to Ramallah yet...
posted by Skeptic at 12:22 AM on November 8, 2005


Regarding my comment that anti-semitic acts are more common in Spain than France, I must confess that I can't find the article I was reading whilst looking up figures (It was yesterday! New stuff happened since then! Work clear the history overnight!). I would note that the Jewish population of Spain is much smaller as a proportion of the population (approx 15k of 40 million compared to France - 600k of 60 million). This compares with Muslim figures of maybe 1 million in Spain versus 5-6 million in France. From a quick google this morning it appears that the figures don't back that up and that France suffers far more reported anti-semitism (though it is still on a downwards trend according to statistics).

The figure of 96% of Spaniards being Roman-Catholic was furnished by the CIA world factbook (since it's the CIA you can take that with as much salt as you feel necessary).
posted by longbaugh at 3:55 AM on November 8, 2005


I find it hard to believe that norway has enough working and lower-middle class people to be the highest in social mobility

There's nothing like faith-based sociology. As one of the papers pointed out above, the US is not unusual in its social mobility, ranking generally in lower half of the industrialised nations, around the same as the UK or France. What sets the US apart is the much greater percentage of its population that tend to believe that it features exceptionally greater social mobility, and that poverty results from internal, personal failings and choices rather than external, macroeconomic forces.

Norway is an oil exporting country with a rather all-encompassing welfare system.

Mobility is a two way street. Families go up... and they can go down. Generally, downward mobility is chiefly the result of adverse life events, such as illness, injuries, or localised recession. Countries that feature high overall upward social mobility generally have safety nets that cushion family structures during adverse events, ensuring that downward social mobility is reduced. In the US, such cushions are sparse, and getting sparser. Therefore, families tend to fall faster, and further, than in other countries, following untoward events. The number of bankruptcies following medical care is a classic example. Having so many uninsured people who will be reduced to penury should they require hospitalisation is a recipe for ensuring a large number of them are trapped in a multi-generational poverty cycle.
posted by meehawl at 5:18 AM on November 8, 2005


meehawl: see, it's all a matter of faith, you can't bring facts and figures into the discussion! How dare you?
posted by funambulist at 5:39 AM on November 8, 2005


Sorry, I am going to need more convincing before believe Norway has enough poor and working class people to be in the same boat as the US or France.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:57 AM on November 8, 2005


Meanwhile, Drudge is reporting a state of emergency has been declared in France.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:00 AM on November 8, 2005


Also, the social mobility that really matters is going for subsistance/poverty line, to lower-middle class. Being able to afford a nice german car is nice, but ultimately meaningless. This may actually make the US look worse, but that's not my point, or the point of this thread. The point is that France has, apparently, > million citizens who live in poverty, with no way out/up.

Prediction: the riots will burn themselves out, and everyone will pretend the problem has been solved. Not.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:14 AM on November 8, 2005


The point is that France has, apparently, > million citizens who live in poverty, with no way out/up.

And this is qualitatively different from US|UK|Germany|Canada|China|any industrialised nation how, exactly?

If what you are actually saying is that market economies typically exhibit certain permanent structural restrictions and inertia when it comes to multi-generational wealth and income redistributions then yes, I'd have to agree with you. But critiquing market economies is not the same as Francophobia. Unless, of course, you have figures (not faith) to demonstrate that people in the lower ends of the SES pyramid in France have it significantly worse than similar people in other market economies.

I think that the French, having after all invented modern consumerism with the first department stores and fixed prices during the latter half of the 19th century, actually have a keener understanding than most of the limits of social mobility.

After all, it was a French guy, Pierre Bourdieu, who explored the idea of habitus - the notion that people are not born equal, but develop within a cocoon of wealth and "breeding" that predisposes them to succeed within the social system. And this habitus can be transmitted and reproduced within classes as a form of wealth. It is somewhat equivalent to the idea of cultural capital, though not as fungible.
posted by meehawl at 8:12 AM on November 8, 2005


Prediction: the riots will burn themselves out, and everyone will pretend the problem has been solved. Not.

I agree with that. Wasn't it 20 years ago that the Algerians and Moroccans marched peacefully in Paris, demanding rights and asking for assisstance? Maybe it was more recent then that, I don't remember it myself but read about it around that same time. It was France's version of the civil rights marches in the 60's. And I don't think it solved anything.
posted by cell divide at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2005


"And this is qualitatively different from US|UK|Germany|Canada|China|any industrialised nation how, exactly?"

Three things. First, the citizens in question seem to be oddly from one part of the word; and recent immigrants. Second, France seems to have created and maintain a suburban model of ghettos which allow everyone else to ignore the problem, and leave the people in question in social and economic isolation. Third, the French like to think they have a superior system.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2005


(world, not word)
posted by ParisParamus at 10:22 AM on November 8, 2005


Fourth, the problems faced in the "banlieus" are really just extreme pockets of what the French face generally: a sclerotic, overtaxed, overregulated society, governed and dominated by men within a decade of retirement. There's very little room in France for innovation and economic creativity.

In any case, I wish them well as they manage the hell they have created, and benefited over the years. Looks like it may be payback time....
posted by ParisParamus at 10:25 AM on November 8, 2005


the French like to think they have a superior system

Find me a culture that doesn't believe that it is superior and I will take your irrational Francophobia more seriously.

There's very little room in France for innovation and economic creativity

You obviously never hung out on Minitel much in the early 1980s then. Everything that the Internet now offers in abundance - porn, fetish, dating, selling, advertising - was operating there decades in advance of its adoption throughout the world.
posted by meehawl at 10:39 AM on November 8, 2005


Meehawl, of course I was there in the early 1980's. The point is, MiniTel was a government-sponsored, taxpayer paid-for boondoggle. If they were so ahead of everyone, why didn't France become an Internet power?


By the way, isn't it BS that the riots aren't getting much coverage? "Only" 500 cars were destroyed last night....
posted by ParisParamus at 6:35 AM on November 12, 2005


So, before this thread gets canned and packed for archiving, I give you the blogger profile for Nicolas Sarkozy. Via: French Interior Minister reads (and comments on) blogs.

In this article, Kassovitz harshly criticises French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy for his conduct during the recent riots that took place in many cities across France, comparing Sarko to a "little Napoleon". Kassovitz thinks (like me) that "these burning cars are surface eruptions in the face of the lack of respect the Minister of the Interior has shown toward their community".

Surprisingly, in what is undoubtedly a first in French politics, Mr Sarkozy has left a (long) comment in response to this post. You can read it for yourself, but since the post has 383 other comments at the time of writing, I'll help you find it by telling you how it begins ...
Monsieur,

J'ai pris connaissance de vos propos développés sur votre blog relatifs à la crise qui a traversé plusieurs de nos banlieues ...
The Interior Ministry has confirmed that Sarkozy is indeed the author of this comment.

posted by gsb at 7:43 AM on November 23, 2005


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