Jewish World Review Nov 10, 2005/ 8 Mar-Cheshvan,
Baghdad on the Seine
This is a source of renewal of the long-standing anti-America
sentiment in France: How dare the cigar-chomping, loudmouthed vulgar
American bore, who knows nothing about fine wine, haute cuisine or couturier
fashion, ride to the rescue of the land of 300 cheeses? Unable to accept
their own weakness, they turned on us. A taker hates a giver. French polls
repeatedly show how little the French think of America. Anti-Americanism is
the first refuge of the French scoundrel.
"What we mistakenly see as a craven, anti-Semitic, insecure, hypocritical, hysterically anti-American, selfish, overtaxed, culturally exhausted country, bereft of ideas, fearful of its own capitulation to Islam, headed for a demographic cul de sac, corrupted by lame ideologies, clinging to unusually unsupportable entitlements, crippled by a spirit of multilayered bureaucracy," writes Denis Boyles in his book, "Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese," is "actually worse than all that."
The French offer the Muslims a faux secularism by banning
headscarves for Islamic schoolgirls, but such forced taboos can't compare
with the ideological correctness of their imams, many of whom cultivate
followers in French prisons. The first generation from Arabia and Africa
born in France does not want to identify with the French. For all of our own
problems with illegal immigration, the United States at its best offers
pride of American citizenship. Our suburbs are often "melting pot suburbs";
so many immigrant entrepreneurs have settled comfortably there.
Appeals to multiculturalism only deepen the alienation of the
children of immigrants, who understand that their alien culture and the
poverty their parents brought with them keep them separate and apart from
authentic participation in the nation. France, as other nations of Europe,
depends on assimilated immigrants with skills and good attitudes to keep the
economy moving. That isn't happening, and the riots won't make it so.
Paris burning ignites a fierce debate among Europeans over
immigration and integration of the 5 or 6 million Muslims living elsewhere
in Western Europe. Sporadic fires have spread to Belgium and Germany. "One
of the greatest dishonesties of European policy and intellectual discourse,"
observes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "has been that multicultural
issues can only be discussed in one direction the 'accepting society.'
Whoever calls on the immigrants themselves to integrate better is seen as a
nationalist monster who lacks 'openness.'"
Out of work adolescents isolated in ghettos become rebels with a
cause to create a Baghdad on the Seine. Francis Fukuyama draws parallels
with other radicals, of other times, other places. "We have seen the exact
same forms of alienation among those young people who in earlier generations
became anarchists, Bolsheviks, fascists or members of the Bader-Meinhof
gang," he writes in The Wall Street Journal. "The ideology changes but the
underlying psychology does not."
The current disturbing ideology is radical Islam, and the
French who never lose an opportunity to criticize America and Israel, and
who embraced Arafat, and who sneer at American aims in Iraq encourage the
mentality of the mobs in their midst crying "jihad" and "war" while setting
fire to cars, buses, stores, warehouses and beating up the occasional man
and woman who happen to be in their way.
For an American to look realistically at the problem is not to
indulge in schadenfreude, but to suggest that it's time for France to look
to America as a better model for a growing economy. It's too late to shoot
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