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November 09, 2005

French Riots

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Provocative commentary about the riots in France comes from Peter Brimelow, Steve Sailer, Mark Steyn, Randall Parker, Fred Reed, Joel Kotkin, and Colby Cosh.



posted by Michael at November 9, 2005


STEP 1: Welfare state creates an underclass.

STEP 2: Multiculturalism allows that underclass to retain a unifying separatist identity.

STEP 3: If that identity happens to be a supremacist tribalism prone to violence - which Islam is (jizyah, dhimmitude, jihad, and all that) - then appeasement gives it the incentive to play some hardball.

Villains: welfare state, multiculturalism, Islamism, and appeasement.

Fair? It staggers me that so many on the left are still in denial after all these years!

If Islamism can be likened to a disease, then socialism, multiculturalism, and appeasement are what make the victim vulnerable. Europe's got a hell of a mess on its hands.

The Sun Tzu Blog has a clever solution: deport the rioter's families.

Posted by: Brian on November 9, 2005 11:19 AM

For example of denial see this thread.
I especially loved one girls's comment that she's kinda sorta rooting for the rioters - see, in her view French Revolution wasn't a revolution, just a riots by the hungry and poor - and see how well that turned out!

Posted by: Tatyana on November 9, 2005 11:47 AM

Speaking of denial, a guy named Barak has assembled a fine roundup of evidence that the Muslim rioters are in fact, you know, Muslims.

For his trouble he gets this in the comment thread:

#10: "Nice 'evidence'. Stupid racists."

Europe is screwed.

Posted by: Brian on November 9, 2005 12:07 PM

The Sun Tzu Blog has a clever solution: deport the rioter's families.

Except, many of the rioters' families are French citizens. To where are they to be deported?

The first major wave of North African immigration to France dates back to the later forties and early fifties. For many young people, not only were they born in France, their parents were born there as well. Many of them speak primarily, or only, French.

The belief that because they have a darker skin color, or a different religion they cannot be real French citizens is in large part responsible for the ghettoization and endemic poverty they've experienced.

Posted by: Amy on November 9, 2005 2:55 PM

I like Joel Kotkin's analysis best - I think this has more to do with poor social policy (i.e., a sclerotic state with little job creation) than with religion. It's not an intifada - it's just a bad idea to put a bunch of people into high-rise cinder block housing, have most on the dole because of 40 % unemployment rates, and then proceed to ignore the problem because France has, you know, egalitae, with no racism or the like (did I spell that right?) )

Posted by: MD on November 9, 2005 2:57 PM

MD, if it has nothing to do with religion, only with dismal economic situation, why non-Muslim poor aren't rioting? There are French Carribeans, you know, Africans from south of Sahara, etc. Or you think only Muslim Arabs are poor? Why there were no Chinese-French or Indian-French among thugs who murdered woman on a wheelchair? If religion has nothing to do with it, why there are no mosques torched, but sinagogues and 2 Christian churches?

Posted by: Tatyana on November 9, 2005 3:44 PM

Something I've read in the last couple of days (where, I don't remember, I've read so much) suggested that the *physical design* of the housing projects may be partly to blame. Most of them are stark and angular with little grass or vegetation in sight. Living in such unattractive surroundings, so goes the claim, actually increases one's sense of alienation and despair.

Posted by: Peter on November 9, 2005 3:47 PM

Tatyana, I've read enough different accounts to be distrustful of specific incidents of this or that being torched. Remember the hysteria surrounding Katrina and how wrong many of the initial reports turned out to be? The Chinese-French and Indian-French are not as large in number, and I believe, have a different economic makeup. And the demographics of immigration are that the largest number of poor are in a certain ethnic group. Add to that identity politics, some of which center around, yes, religion, but not quite in the way implied by an intifada, and there you go.

And how do you know there aren't others mixed in with the rioters? Based on what definitive study, might I ask? Look, I'm as distrustful of Islamofascism as any, and and my birth-country is India, so you know, I haven't exactly been unaware of this topic even before 9-11, but in this case to make it an intifada in the sense of an Islamist uprising is a mistake.

I said this on another blog and I'll say it here: if these kids had a nice car, a nice job, and a nice girlfriend, they likely wouldn't be rioting.

Posted by: MD on November 9, 2005 4:31 PM

Bruce Thornton has a good summary of the ideas behind the YOUEE paradigm. (YOUEE stands for Youths Of Undetermined Ethnic Extraction and is pronouced YOW-ee.) His money quote:

The Times endorses the opinion consistent with the liberal-left world-view of the paper's editorial board, a vision of human nature in which notions like free will and unmotivated evil are superstitions that have been unmasked by science. People in reality are just passive victims of the larger forces controlling their destinies. Thus the unjust economic system (i.e. capitalism) and its oppression are to blame for destructive actions, for man does live by bread alone, and so if he acts up it's only because he doesn't have enough bread. All those Muslim youths have no autonomous wills, no values or ideals they hold dear, no spiritual beliefs that justify their actions. They are just passive victims who can only react to the injustice around them.

And who happen to be radical Muslim.

Posted by: Brian on November 9, 2005 4:40 PM

Religion, architecture, discrimination, sclerotic dirigiste economies, even by gum the lack of a nice job, a nice car and a nice girlfriend for the nice boys gadding around burning cars and the occasional handicapped person...I'm sure all of these have something to do with the riots. But so does the Elephant In The Room. And the Elephant is the ultimate taboo subject that many of the sources Michael linked to have nonetheless had the temerity to point to and name. The Elephant is the lower average intelligence of the rioters. That's the common element that unites the car-and-people torchers, brown, black or otherwise. They're just not that smart.

My guess is that there are few if any Chinese-French rioters because Chinese-French are probably as smart as Chinese-Americans, and so don't end up trapped in the citÚs in the first place. I mean, when was the last time Chinese-Americans went on the rampage?

Smart people don't riot.

Posted by: PatrickH on November 9, 2005 5:10 PM

Sorry, MD, nice car+nice girlfriend doesn't fly as solution (it's as funny as wonderful-sounding for interior designer architectural explanation). Actually, it seems French government thinks along those lines, too - don't know if they're going to provide free of charge girlfriends but there are "humanists" voices raised for affirmative action and more money aimed to shut the thugs up.

Your descent is not exactly a valid argument one way or another, either. I can give you numerous examples of Jews trying their best to destroy the Jewish State. Nothing personal, of course - just it's not a good argument.
I'm not aware of any rumors at the time of Katrina that were proven false later - please tell me what do you mean.
Some statistics and root causes for the world terrorism, whatever it's called: insurgency, riots, suicide bombers or African genocide are wrapped up quite convincingly here (taken from Allan Sullivan's blog), and it's not poverty or low IQ. It's Islam.
For everything else - please read comments by ellipsis on this thread @ Jane Galt*, he tells it very well. Or this story, with links to the news items about facts, not rumors.

Can I ask you, MD, how come Indian and Chinese immigrants "have different economic make-up"? Were they all born to privilege, or French made it a selective policy to allow in the country specifically only rich Indians and Chinese and poverty-striken Arabs? Please tell me why third-generation French citizen of Arab descent and Islam denomination generally in worse economic shape than third-generation French citizen with Chinese and Indian roots?

* strange thing: comments disappeared on JG blog, but I can access them thru somebody else's linking to them, and the argument continues there. How that could happen? In any case, if direct link doesn't work, please copyclip it and open in separate window.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 9, 2005 7:03 PM

Patrick H -

Can there really be significant I.Q. differences between the North Africans and French? They're basically the same race. Some are almost physically indistinguishable.

Posted by: Peter on November 9, 2005 8:58 PM

Fascinating comments.
The one thing I have noticed so far -- in general -- is the absence of compellingly intelligent writings on the riots. Nothing I have read so far-- anywhere -- satisfies me.

Posted by: David Sucher on November 9, 2005 9:00 PM

Tatyana -

Right after Katrina there were some predictions that the death toll would be well into the thousands, as it turns out the toll was barely over 1,000. Much the same happened after 9/11.

Posted by: Peter on November 9, 2005 9:01 PM

Btw, Is Kotkin's (crucial) figures about USA vs France job creation accurate?

Knowing Joel's imagination -- i.e. lack of rigor & accuracy when it comes to city issues -- I would want to see some documentation before I accepted it as fact...though I agree it makes a saleable story for the right-wing MSM.

Posted by: David Sucher on November 9, 2005 9:15 PM

Preliminary estimates and finalised count of the dead due to Katrina disaster is not the same as "specific incidents of this or that being torched" that turned out to be not true.
Let me give you few examples of the specific incidents of despeakable crimes, which will be difficult to dismiss as rumors (although there are masters of convenient lies who really try).

Posted by: Tatyana on November 9, 2005 9:27 PM


You left Larry Auster ( ) off your list.

Posted by: SamC on November 9, 2005 9:53 PM

Tatyana- no, I propose (and I could be wrong) that the French government created a situation where there was no job, no car, no nice girlfriend, and it was aided and abetted by a funny dance between ignoring cultural and racial difference, and giving in to it.

During 7/7, you had a group of young men, not poor by a long stretch of the imagination, who were indoctrinated and as a result of such indoctrination, set about blowing themselves and others up. Radical Islam, yes.

The riots are complicated and it is likely that many factors are being brought to the fore. It is not simply Islam, although cultural-Islam and group identity may play a part in it. If religion, in and of itself, were the cause, than India should have fallen apart, completely disintegrated after 2000 Muslims were massacred by Hindus. How many millions of Muslims live in India? More than Pakistan, and they're not all Kashmiri. It's complicated.

I stand by my assertion: it is a spectacularly bad idea to stick a bunch of immigrants into public housing, have a 40% unemployment rate, give some of them the dole, act like race and culture don't matter, and then go ahead and give some credence to Muslim 'leaders' in a wierd multi-culti dance. Sorry, it's not religion alone. Religion is sometimes mixed up with culture, and I thought we conservatives believed culture mattered (hint: if you don't believe in educating women, then how do you suppose your ethnic group will do against groups who have little problem with it? And yes, I am grossly generalizing!)

And as for this group not being as well assimilated, well, maybe they weren't being asked to in quite the same way as past groups, despite the ban on head coverings and the like.

Posted by: MD on November 10, 2005 9:22 AM

FWIW, my high school year in France in the early '70s was a miserable time for an American to be there. America was stuck in Vietnam, and there was much post-'68 radicalism in the air, which meant that Frenchies were very prone to fire off self-righteously at any old American without provocation. Vietnam ... Imperialism ... And finally racism. (Funny how so many political showdowns finally end up with one participant accusing the other of racism ... Generally speaking, it says more to me about the person making the accusation than about the person being hit with it.) I eventually started hitting back (in my lousy French) by pointing out that the French weren't exactly luvvies where it came to the Arabs and Algerians who were even then plenty visible. I never got a rational answer. "Ce n'est pas la meme chose," was about all anyone ever said to me. Meanwhile turning a delicately flared nostril up at me, of course.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 10, 2005 10:21 AM

MD -
Steve Sailer makes a very good point on his site today. A useful way to gauge the extent of Islamic motivation behind the riots is to determine - if doing so is possible - the extent to which non-Muslim black Africans are participating, as their social and economic status in France is only marginally better than that of Muslims. I'd refine that a little further and say that evidence of significant black African participation, whether Muslim or otherwise, is a good indication that the primary motivation is *not* religious, as black African Muslims tend to be less doctrinaire in their practice than Arabs.

Posted by: Peter on November 10, 2005 12:26 PM

A rather different view from most of the those linked and expressed above, from Juan Cole. BTW, France actively opposes multicuturalism — remember headscarves in school?

Posted by: Michael Snider on November 10, 2005 3:24 PM

This unpolemical account of similar but smaller problems in Sweden is at the Truck and Barter site. Interesting reading.

Posted by: jult52 on November 10, 2005 3:35 PM

Yes, there is no quarter for multiculturalism - on paper.

At the risk of making a bad joke, perhaps one of the problems is insisting on fondue, as opposed to the melting pot?

Posted by: MD on November 10, 2005 3:36 PM

The muslims should thank their simple moon god that I'm not running France - I'd slaughter every one of those bastards and leave them to rot in the streets.

Posted by: robert on December 3, 2005 10:46 PM

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