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Saturday, November 05, 2005


paris riots

now going on two weeks of growing unrest, paris remains explosive night after night as immigrant youth rages against french government and economics. violence is spreading to other cities, including marseilles, and the french government -- initially in denial of the extent of the problems -- is now in full crisis mode, with police speaking of a possible descent into civil war.

the quiet racism of a nation and government obsessed with its sense of self is being exposed as never before. not many american tourists in france understand, i think, the deep divide that exists between the french middle class and its immigrant, primarily muslim minorities (except to say that it is similar to the gulf between the american middle class and african-americans). their unavoidable unfrenchness has made them victims of france's desperate struggle to stave off the globalization of french identity as borders dissolve under an anglophone suzerain. as part of the decadent west even france, seat of high western culture, has precious little cultural charisma with which to assimilate immigrants -- just as american or british immigrants now hang on to their former identities, opting for a multicultural existence in lieu of assimilation -- but has done far more than either to resist vulgarization from the top down. managerial attempts at forcing unity, such as the headscarf ban blindly thought by many french bourgeoisie to be a step toward a unified french culture, symbolize the repression and antagonism of foreign minorities that has become second nature to french managerial policy. france is now paying in spades for its resistance to the vulgarization that is the unavoidable consequence of civilizational decline.

the french management class has responded thusfar with a bluster -- "not backing down", "standing firm", the promise of retaliation through the police, et al -- that would not sound out of place in the mouth of any american imperialist. designed more to reassure the frightened obedient (including themselves) than to be the solution to any problem, these comments serve only as a redoubled antagonism. but such is entirely typical of the dessicated western management elite -- long ago having lost the creative merit by which they held allegiance in the west's halcyon days, intimidation has become the only basis of a government that exists merely to perpetuate itself and not to find moral solutions to the difficult moral problems that pervade western society.

UPDATE: de villepin and sarkozy continue their political battle -- de villepin being the voice of the french cultural inflexibility which got france into this mess, and sarkozy forwarding reasonable proposals (representation for immigrants) as well as condescending ones (the establishment of a "french islam").

The lack of coverage on the riots in France is really interesting to me. How come nobody in the U.S. is concerned?

It's been more than 10 years since I was in Paris, France. I remember taking the train out of Paris was always very interesting. Looking at the suburbs, I felt like I was taking the South Shore Line out of Chicago through the Southeast side an into NW Indiana. That was when I realized the dirty little secret in Europe is that they have "the haves" and "the have nots" just like here in the states. They just hide them out in the suburban areas and not in their city centers.

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You refer to immigrant rioters, but many are French-born.

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in many very important ways, mr twba, these people are and will always be immigrants to france -- and never french. that is the crux of the problem, as i see it. i think it's quite right to use "immigrant" as a adjective to the rioters.

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