So Adolf Hitler asked back in 1944, hoping to administer a death sentence to the City of Lights even as his occupying army was forced to leave it by the oncoming Allied liberators.
Tonight, fires set off by different forces, young immigrants from African and Arab countries, burn in the Paris suburbs and at various places across France. This has been going on now for eleven straight nights.
These recent events are deeply disturbing to anyone who lives in a Western Democracy. They clearly show the dangers inherent in the failure to integrate immigrant populations into the life of a democratic nation.
But there is good reason to wonder if some of the Arab youth involved in the riots truly want to be integrated into the life of their adopted country. If they, like some of the Arab population in the Netherlands, who have come under the influence of Islamofascists, believe that the government's policies must comply with their own version of Islamic law, they may not want to participate equally in the civil life of France, they may want to dominate it.
In any case, the French government must decisively defeat the forces of anarchy now. There will be time for postmortems later.
All Western democracies must deal with the threat posed to their social compacts by the facile, divisive, and destructive programs of fundamental religionists. Whether one agrees with every argument raised by former President Jimmy Carter in his impressive new book, his discussion of this very issue, addressed to America's specific political situation, applies equally well to what is going on in France right now. For democracies to function, no religious group must be able to dominate others. This is why I so appreciate Hugh Hewitt's discussion of Jerry Fallwell in his book, In, But Not Of. Hewitt argues that Fallwell embarrasses and sets back the cause of Christ with his fundamentalist pronouncements.
Democracies require a fair marketplace of ideas. The young people breaking windows and throwing Molotov Cocktails in France tonight don't want that fair marketplace. They want to shut it down and tell everybody else what to believe, think, and do.
UPDATE: In the comments, Free2Rocknroll (aka: our son's best friend since childhood days), points out that Arabs in France are subjected to ill-treatment. (He's also quick to point out that this can't justify the rioting.) He's right. I was trying, perhaps too obliquely and with insufficient detail, to acknowledge that in the original post. The failure to integrate groups of people into a given society can be fatal. The French appear to have been heedless to the immigrant groups among them, ill-treating them when they come in contact with mainstream French society while tolerating a "don't look, don't tell" lawlessness in those areas where they live.
But it does appear to me that some of those who are engaged in rioting in France right now are unwilling to be integrated into a multicultural democracy. That sort of intolerance cannot be tolerated.