Monday, November 07, 2005

Les Enfants Terribles

We're on day 11 of the riots throughout France and there's absolutely no sign that things will be improving. Thousands of cars have been destroyed, and an increasing number of businesses, schools, and other buildings have been damaged by arson.

Police and law enforcement seem completely incapable of stopping the violence or even trying to determine the best course of action.

The Glittering Eye has a map of the violence that has spread through the French countryside over the past 11 days (the map has the locations from the first 10 days of rioting). The French have always thought of the concept of the ugly American, but I think the world is seeing the ugly Frenchman. This is the side of French life that the French government would much rather have been kept an open secret.

The level of violence associated with the rioting has also increased, as police are increasingly coming under gunfire from the rioter. Nearly a dozen police were injured by shotgun blasts, two of them seriously.

The first death associated with the rioting has been reported, and the rioting has spread to at least 300 towns.
As urban unrest spread to neighboring Belgium and possibly Germany, the French government faced growing criticism for its inability to stop the violence, despite massive police deployment and continued calls for calm.

On Sunday night, vandals burned more than 1,400 vehicles, and clashes around the country left 36 police injured, setting a new high for overnight arson and violence since rioting started Oct. 27, Michel Gaudin told a news conference.

Australia, Austria, Britain, Germany and Hungary advised their citizens to exercise care in France, joining the United States and Russia in warning tourists to stay away from violence-hit areas.
In other words, the borders aren't containing the violence, and it is spreading far faster than the French government would like to admit. The seemingly powerlessness of the French government to contain the violence is not going to go unnoticed - both by other countries and by terrorists. The terrorists are watching the situation and keeping score.

And I would like to know what is considered a strong police response, considering the fact that only a day ago did we hear that even a single police helicopter was in the air to survey the carnage and that only 1,200 people have been arrested thus far. If the French authorities were truly serious, we'd be seeing a massive crackdown with thousands of arrests, not a smattering of arrests. Where's the NYPD when the French need them?

The grim milestone of 5,000 cars burned is only a night away.

The Belgravia Dispatch notes the sense of utter helplessness setting in among the French as the government has proven to be ineffectual.
The violence the roving gangs of youth are engaging in is borne of various causes and grievances. This profound alienation needs to be analyzed, to be sure. And at the end of the day, while there is some room for jihadist radicals to play on these sentiments to lure more towards piety, the book and perhaps terror--what this is really about is not some religiosity-infused intifada on the Seine but bread and butter issues of jobs and racism. Sarkozy is right that so called positive discrimination (affirmative action), at least in calibrated fashion, needs to be experimented with. But he is also at least equally right that criminals, even young ones just 18, must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Stoking mayhem cannot be rewarded. Such 'chantage'-like tactics should not be in the cards. And yet, there is reason for some of the fury, and I'd hazard most of it stems from unemployment in the 30% zone among many in their early 20s.
As I've noted over the past few days, the rioting is morphing and changing depending on where and who is involved in the carnage. Some are doing it because of high unemployment and other economic grievances (though other countries with high unemployment have not seen rioting), and others are using this as an opportunity to push the religious sentiments.

Blogger Clive Davis thinks that the focus on the Islamist element in the rioting is overstated and that the economic situation is the trumping issue. I don't discount that as a factor, but the Islamists are most definitely exploiting the situation.

Whatever the reasoning for the thugs involved in the riots, the French government must put an end to the rioting and platitudes about economic opportunities and affirmative action isn't going to cut it. The French need to seriously reconsider the issues of assimilation, economic growth and the underlying economic order in France and their relationships to each other.

On the media front, the Washington Post has an above the fold story, and the New York Times is finally realizing that the situation in France is dire. Took 'em more than a week to realize the significance of the rioting - and that it is far more important than the organized and professional rioting that occurred when Bush visited Argentina.

Don Surber uncovers Israeli advice for the French intifada, which is:
"First, until this plan is implemented in full, we must insist that the French government acknowledge that there is no military or police solution to the problems of violence in its suburbs, and only through recognizing the legitimacy of the demands of the murderers and rioters outside Paris can the problems be resolved."
Well, while not all the rioters are Muslim, it's certainly sage advice. The French government will certainly not appreciate the advice, but this is where they're at.

Vodkapundit has more thoughts, including the difficulty of keeping a riot going. More interesting is the fact that the rioters will have learned that they have a dangerous new tool at their disposal to get their way in the future. Don't think for a moment that this fact hasn't been lost on the rioters - and the government hasn't quite realized this.

Ace castigates the WaPo for essentially saying Riots Just A Way For Youth To Say "I'm Here, Man. I'm Here." You can't make this stuff up. The original headline? Rage of French Youth Is a Fight for Recognition. Here's some more advice.

Listen to the Beastie Boys. Play Fight for Your Right. Loud. At 11. Repeat as necessary. You'll find the urge to riot and pillage diminish as the music takes hold.

Ace also notes that the French are trying to minimize the violence to only a few provinces. Yeah, that's the ticket. Each night see the violence spiral out of control and into more areas of the country. But the media will buy the offical line of the French government despite the facts clearly burning before them.

Via LGF comes this amazing tidbit - the French media is going to refrain from posting the numbers of cars torched in an effort to stop the rioting. Are you kidding me?! Anyone have a nighttime overhead shot of France to see all the fires burning?

Mister Snitch has provided a roundup of the coverage of the French riots among the left leaning blogs in New Jersey. It's a short and sweet review, because they're simply not covering the riots at all. Well, if you consider that it took the NYT more than a week to realize that something was happening in France, and the leftie blogs take their cues from the mainstream media sources, this isn't altogether unexpected. However, I do believe that Daily Kos has had a number of postings on the riots, but the coverage has been limited, especially in comparison to a site like LGF.

Michelle Malkin has new updates on the rioting. She finds that one of the key words missing from the news coverage generally was Muslim or Islamists. Not surprising. The media has downplayed the religious aspects in favor of the economic arguments. I'm sure that there is an economic argument to be made somewhere by the goons involved in firebombing thousands of cars and hundreds of businesses, but there is an increasing Islamist element in the rioting - both in terms of who is doing the rioting and who is formenting further attacks. Ace also makes a similar observation.

The Anchoress also makes some interesting observations about the rioting and France in general.

Wretchard has an interesting observation about the car-b-qs: the French government had opportunities up to the 6th day to contain the violence, and again has a chance to contain the violence, but in each instance, the violence spread because the government failed to take decisive action to put down the riots. As much as the French government bloviates, it doesn't take any real tangible steps.
The French government must demonstrate that it can deliver, for nothing incites contempt so much as to be all hat and no cattle; to bluster and to bluster impotently.
Thus far, this quote symbolizes the entire French government response.

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