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Self-righteousness will come home to roost ( or NY is Fun City, Paris is a riot)


The news from France is not good. The riots that are engulfing France should elicit the concern of all decent people. Instead, they have generated an incredible outpouring of self-righteousness, very often by people who were never in France.

As I do not live in France, perhaps I should not comment. However, as everyone else who doesn't live in France has commented, and I live on Earth, I think I choose to exercise the right of reply. The burning of buildings and loss of life has been turned into a party to which every hypocrite is invited. It would be better if they all went home and tended to their own business, in their own backyards. Everyone names their own favorite villains as culprits for the riots.

In Front Page Magazine, Steve Plaut, who cannot hide his glee at the misfortunes of others, wants the French to cede "Land for Peace" in order to solve their "Intifada." Plaut teaches business administration according to the blurb at the bottom of the article.

In Yediot Ahronot, Sever Plocker, who should know better, writes of the "Paris Intifada:"

Muslim neighborhoods in many European cities - London, Madrid, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris - are today centers of radicalism and terror, fertile incubators for jihad and anti-Israeli activity. The traditional leadership, which preached assimilation, has lost its authority and has been replaced with various preachers of religious extremism.

Plocker quotes another expert on French sociology:

"Radical Islam", wrote Francis Fukiyama in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, tells (disenfranchised European Muslims) exactly who they are- respected members of a global Muslim umma to which they can belong despite their lives in lands of unbelief."

There is certainly some truth in the notion that poverty and desperation make people turn to radical ideologies, but it is not the same as implying, as Plocker and others do, that there is a "Paris Intifada." Israel had riots in Arab towns. These could be blamed on "nationalism" only by studiously ignoring the serious social problems of Israeli Arabs. However, social inequality is not limited to Israeli Arabs. Can Steve Plaut or Sever Plocker guarantee that Sephardic Jews or Ethiopian Jews or ultra-orthodox Jews, or just plain poor folks in neglected development towns, tired of paying for settlements and graft, will not rise up in the urban and rural slums of Israel and start similar riots?

Arab News, published in Saudi Arabia, has its own experts on France apparently. From the vantage point of the their own society, based on the best principles of social justice, the Saudi editors explain to the French, and to us:

There are five million Muslims in France, the largest Islamic population in Western Europe, but they are by all accounts the least cared for. Now they and their grievances have come to the fore and the test facing French authorities is huge. Officials say they are determined to stop the unrest, employing
either the carrot or the stick, but nobody seems to know how or when the fighting will stop.... This is a spontaneous outburst for recognition, following decades of simmering, by those living on society's margins.

And People who have been ignored for decades do not cool down overnight.

Without the enlightened wisdom of the editors of Arab News we would not have known that, right? They should take their own advice to heart. Consider, for example, the plight of women in Saudi Arabia, or the plight of the Shi'ite minority in the south-east of Saudi Arabia. Are they less discriminated against than North Africans in France? A citizen of France of North African origin can vote, and can get a drivers' licence. That is not true of Saudi women. Saudi Arabia would also do well to attend to its own problems of foreign workers and racism, and its quaint immigration laws. As they say in Saudi Arabia, "People who have been ignored for decades do not cool down overnight." Wouldn't it be wiser for the Saudis to look for the mote in their own eye?

To an outsider, it seems undeniable that poverty and discrimination play a role in these riots, The looting and riots that took place over the years in New York, Detroit, Baltimore and most recently New Orleans were not due to Muslim radicals and were not an "Intifada." However, it is not the whole story.

Amir Taheri writes:

Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the "millet" system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.

In parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place. In these areas, all women are obliged to wear the standardized Islamist "hijab" while most men grow their beards to the length prescribed by the sheiks.

The radicals have managed to chase away French shopkeepers selling alcohol and pork products, forced "places of sin," such as dancing halls, cinemas and theaters, to close down, and seized control of much of the local administration.

A reporter who spent last weekend in Clichy and its neighboring towns of Bondy, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Bobigny heard a single overarching message: The French authorities should keep out.

"All we demand is to be left alone," said Mouloud Dahmani, one of the local "emirs" engaged in negotiations to persuade the French to withdraw the police and allow a committee of sheiks, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.

A foreign cultural enclave is no doubt the nightmare of every French patriot. However, if the French people really believe that their way of life is better, they need to ask themselves why the inhabitants of these areas have not of their own accord opted for it, but have supposedly decided to create a Mecca on the Seine. Perhaps they did not choose, but were excluded from French society? On the other hand, if conditions in France are so bad for immigrants, why do so many Muslims and Africans want to immigrate to France?

We want to believe that given the choice, people will choose democracy and liberal society. It seems logical to believe that people who came to a new land wanted to be part of that land and culture, rather than to bring the troubles of their old societies with them and colonize France for radical Islam. If it is not so, then it is certainly alarming.

The throwing of rocks by foreigners who live in glass houses was perhaps inevitable, given the assumed superiority of the European countries, and particularly the French, who have their own Plockers and Plauts and Taheris. These have been lecturing Israel, Turkey and other countries about democracy and human rights for many years. From their high-flown rhetoric, you would never know that would-be mmigrants are turned away from France and other countries in the cruelest way. One would scarcely suspect that within the living memory of many, the gas chambers were busy burning Jews and gypsies and others in Auschwitz, and many Europeans, not only Germans, were engaged in the business of shipping off the victims for "processing." European humanism has a brief and stormy history.

Nonetheless, it is not the place of others to castigate the French. Everyone, including the French, should learn that charity begins at home. No society is without guilt, and none of us should be rushing off to cast stones and smirk at the plight of others.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 1 Comment

Peace to all men of good will in France.
France is a secular state and has been for over two hundred years.
Any remnant of Christianity is vestigial.

Official France does not want Muslims; it wants "Citizens of the Republic."
Muslims were welcomed when day laborers were needed.
Now that educated "Citizens of the Republic" are needed France does not want Africans and Arabs wearing beards and traditional garb. France wants its "Citizens" to play tennis, run track and go to college or off to factories.
Distinctive garb is not required or desired. Muslims should transform into suitably grateful "Citizens of the Republic." This is the "Republic" of the French elite.

The average citizen, however, seems to want their linguistic, racial and national identities preserved. This seems to be true whatever their language, race or national identity. I believe that either Christianity or Islam will triumph at the national\official religion but secular France will not survive. It may be a difficult time for France over the coming two centuries.

PS: This concept of Official Citizen versus average citizen appeared in an article that I read recently.

Posted by Rick H @ 11/10/2005 11:51 PM CST

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