The Daily Demarche
Sunday, November 06, 2005
"It's like Baghdad here! It's the Apocalypse!"
I was going to post my "What If We Withdrew From Iraq Today" essay this afternoon, but in light of the continuing situation in France I am still working on that particular post. While not directly related, I can see some parallels between the two, and am still trying to tease them out, so hopefully that post will come tomorrow. I am not the only one making these connections, either- at least some of the rioters in France are fully aware of the similarities.

Despite my cheap shot at the French government (below), this is no laughing matter. After how many days does rioting become civil war? At what point do the French people say "enough is enough" and either demand action from the government in the form of reactive violence, or simply take to the streets themselves in search of justice? Mark Steyn (see the link above) has, as usual captured the essence of this situation perfectly:

Battles are very straightforward: Side A wins, Side B loses. But the French government is way beyond anything so clarifying. Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman. They're in Brussels, where Belgian police officers are advised not to be seen drinking coffee in public during Ramadan, and in Malmo, where Swedish ambulance drivers will not go without police escort. It's way too late to rerun the Battle of Poitiers. In the no-go suburbs, even before these current riots, 9,000 police cars had been stoned by ''French youths'' since the beginning of the year; some three dozen cars are set alight even on a quiet night. ''There's a civil war under way in Clichy-sous-Bois at the moment,'' said Michel Thooris of the gendarmes' trade union Action Police CFTC. ''We can no longer withstand this situation on our own. My colleagues neither have the equipment nor the practical or theoretical training for street fighting.''

The response of the French government, lead by Jacques Chirac has been weak, at best. Finally, after 11 days, Chirac has made a public statement:

"The law must have the last word," Chirac said in his first public address on the violence. Those sowing "violence or fear" will be "arrested, judged and punished."

What Chirac seems to have failed to understand is that it is too late to make threats of arrest and punishment. The liberal left, the appeasers on both sides and the media have all been careful to tread lightly around this situation, but the discovery of a bomb factory and the spread of violence into rural France seems to indicate that the "angry youths" have no intention of ending their rampage anytime soon.

What are we to take away from this? France has done much to ingratiate itself to Muslims- they opposed the Iraq invasion, and have largely distanced themselves from the war on terror. Large numbers of immigrants have been welcomed into the country- many of them Muslim (France is home to the largest Muslim population in Europe), and yet clearly the French are not immune to Muslim rage. I am not claiming that 100% of the rioters are Muslim, but consider the reports of rioters shouting "God is Great" in Arabic and that 80% of the population of Clichy, where the riots began, is Muslim.

Until today the riots had largely been about the destruction of property and symbols of the state, with the notable exception of a woman on crutches who was doused with gasoline and set afire. French news is now reporting, however, that 30 police officers in Grigny have been injured in clashes with rioters, including two with serious gunshot wounds. How long will it be before these clashes become more frequent, or before the disaffected gangs turn their ire towards the French people themselves? How long before one torched building is found to be full of bodies? And when this does happen, what will the reaction be?

Faced with these questions I have to ask myself, what do the rioters want, really? Is this really about racism, or unemployment? Why is it that these same folks, recent immigrants to a large extent, did not rise up in their home lands? Why did they not agitate for change in the places they fled? This pattern of flee from a homeland without promise to a liberal Western land, and then demand that this land accept you and your ways without compromise, has repeated itself across Europe in recent decades.

Francis Fukuyama touched on this last week in his op-ed A Year of Living Dangerously: Remember Theo van Gogh, and shudder for the future:

The real challenge for democracy lies in Europe, where the problem is an internal one of integrating large numbers of angry young Muslims and doing so in a way that does not provoke an even angrier backlash from right-wing populists. Two things need to happen: First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds.

I find this passage profoundly disturbing. Who in their right mind wants to integrate "large numbers of angry young Muslims" into their community? To what end? Fukuyama fears a backlash from the right, but does not fear "large numbers of angry young Muslims"? I see no reason why any nation should alter its sense of national identity to accommodate recent immigrants. Equal treatment under the law for all is a given. From that base it is up to each society to choose what to adopt and what to marginalize. Any culture that chooses to transplant itself into the center of another must prove that what it has to offer is worthwhile, if it wishes to be accepted by the greater majority. The simple fact is that all cultures are not equal. Just because something is considered to have cultural value in one place does not mean it is valid in another.

If there really is a vast silent majority of peaceful Muslims in Europe then it is time for them to rise up as well. It is time for those who have "integrated" to drown out the violence and the voices of those who refuse to do so. It is time for France and the rest of the E.U. to worry less about the threat posed to their cultures by Hollywood and for them to worry more about the threat posed by their own policies, and the radical elements within their borders.

These riots may yet be put down without serious loss of life, but they are a glimpse of the future that awaits Europe. The youth who shouted out the phrase that is the title of this piece is sorely mistaken. Baghdad is on its way to recovery- Europe is on the slippery path to suicide by appeasement.

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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