Sunday, November 06, 2005

Is Paris Burning?

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.

5 comments:

AndrewRWood said...

Hey there! I've been following this French story pretty close because I have good friends living in Paris and in Marseille. Both of them have heard it said that the Muslims and Africans in Paris (and elsewhere in France) have been treated pretty badly. Check out this article:(http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2005/11/06/youths_poverty_despair_fuel_violent_unrest_in_france/)
Not that it excuses violent behavior but a lot of the poor Muslims in Paris have turned to extremism because they haven't been allowed to enter into French society. Once this wave of terror blows over (which is hopefully soon) I think the French government needs to reevaluate how its treating its poorest citizens.

Mark Daniels said...

Free2:
Thanks for the comments and the link. I think that what you're saying about French treatment of Arabs and Africans is true, from what I know. This what I meant by, and perhaps didn't emphasize sufficiently, "the failure to integrate immigrant populations."

Europe hasn't always been what you'd call a "melting pot."

Thanks, Dude!

Mark

AndrewRWood said...

No prob! I love your site by the way! I read it all the time. Thanks for your thoughts on issues 1-5 too. I appreciated it! Talk to you soon!

Roy "Griff" Griffis said...

One tangential aside, mostly for the "American is terrible and we should be more cosmopolitan like the French and Europeans" crowd. The riots in France are spreading...like wildfire. Oddly, the most recent large riots in America, Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict, did not spread. Did not ignite a firestorm of this kind. One supposes if America was so vile, racist, etc., we, too, would have had spreading anarchy. Yet, it didn't happen.

Mark Daniels said...

Griff:
Thanks so much for these comments. I think you point to one of the factors that have exacerbated this crisis in France: The disdain with which the French nation has treated its Muslim population.

As I think all of us have been saying here today, none of this can justify the current spasm of violence--which may be much more than a spasm, sadly. But there can be no doubt that the ill-treatment of the North African and Arab populations in France has added fuel to the fires blazing there.

I pray that peace will come to the entire country soon.

Mark