Jewish World Review Nov.8, 2005/ 6 Mar-Cheshvan
No more lessons from French tutors
Only yesterday, our French friends were chiding us for inviting the ocean in to drown the poor folks of New Orleans.
Gallic hearts broke at the sight of desperate Americans perched on the rooftops of the Big Uneasy, and the 50 million Frenchmen who can't be wrong were ready and eager to tutor us in righteousness and rectitude.
What a difference a fortnight can make. Paris, if not burning, is certainly simmering this morning, and most of France with it. When you're sitting on a red-hot stove, it's difficult think of your neighbor's distress.
Twelve nights of rioting have persuaded even Jacques Chirac that, "Houston, we've got a problem." He bestirred himself on the 11th day to make presidential noises "no surrender to hoodlums," "the law must be upheld," "violence is always unacceptable." With more than 300 towns and cities, including Paris, now engulfed in violent thuggery, with police reserves called up, curfew imposed and the blight spreading to Belgium and Germany, it's no longer possible even for the minister of tourism to pretend the situation is not out of hand. Peace, meet jihad.
"You get the impression that France is awash in fire and blood," Leon Bertrand, the tourism minister, said yesterday, "which is not the case at all. You cannot deny the images, but there are images and images."
There's no scarcity of terminally sensitive apologists eager to make the usual excuses for the lawless. And it's true that the housing projects ringing Paris, keeping the poor out of sight, are islands of misery and woe. But it's impractical to blame the French government for not assimilating the Muslim tide from Africa and Arabia when these Muslims by and large not only do not want assimilation, but resist it, insisting on bringing to France with them the eighth-century culture that makes life such hell in their homelands.
Many of the newspapers in Europe and even on this side of the Atlantic have similar difficulty looking at cold reality with a cool eye. The Manual of Political Correctness decrees that it's not nice to say who the rioters are, since they're not Israelis, Christians or even visiting American infidels who can be correctly sneered at. They're the tired, the poor, the tempest tossed of a new religious and ethnic group called "youths." The Muslim thugs who make up the mobs, having imbibed years of poison purveyed by radical imams, are rarely identified in most news accounts as Muslim thugs, but as "youths" shooting at gendarmes, "youths" burning down schools, "youths" torching synagogues, "youths" setting elderly women on fire as they step from the trolley, "youths" destroying 4,500 cars and trucks as if they mean to cleanse France of every scrap of sheet metal.
Some of our most sensitive carin' and sharin' journals here avert their eyes; when at last Paris was burning, The Washington Post regarded it as news for Page 14, perhaps to preserve space on Page One for any late-breaking gay and lesbian news or bulletins announcing the summary execution of Karl Rove (with indictment and trial still to come).
Schadenfreude is not nice, even if the French for once do not have the word for taking pleasure in the misfortune of others, and anyone with a trace of Christian charity in his heart wouldn't indulge such feelings. Besides, what's happening in France and no doubt soon across all of Eurabia is probably en route to America already, along with avian flu. It's what you can expect when someone comes to dinner and won't leave, and you give in to every unreasonable whim, outrageous caprice and dour crochet even unto disguising the breakfast ham as breast of turkey.
The "youths" who have joined the struggle to dismantle the civilization that gave them refuge from their miserable Arabian and African homelands of origin are far less assimilated than their parents or their grandparents were. They imagine themselves to be "dissed" (though this sorry excuse for a word has not yet crossed the sea). They offer no reason why they're entitled to respect. Who can respect hoodlums who lash out at distant authority by burning the homes and property of neighbors who have done them no harm? Yet President Chirac, like some of our own politicians would no doubt do, prescribes "a spirit of dialogue and respect."
The rioters, who calculate they have the government on the run, are not impressed. "It's the start of war," one of the "youths" in the Parisian suburb of Le Blanc Mesnil boasts to the Associated Press. "Put that in your notebook." Says another: "Before it was gang warfare between different projects. [Now they] have given us a common target the government."
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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
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