The French Nightmare Come True...
From the Times of London, I give you this:
Th implication is that Jacques Chirac is a dead man walking, and all it will take to bury him once and for all is for the violence now sweeping French cities to spill over and disrupt the tourist trade.
I don't agree that it's that simple, to be sure, but there are underlying factors at play here.
What is happening in Paris, and elsewhere, is simply a repudiation of the European societal model. This model implies that things like culture, religion and custom can just easily be brushed aside in the name of "unity". It is an extension of the philosophical argument that human nature can be ignored when it becomes inconvenient. France, and the rest of Europe to varying degrees, has been attempting to rebuild society in some utopian way since the end of the Second World War. The foundations of this new society are to be based upon the people, at all levels, ignoring the fact that they may be French, Polish, Dutch, etc., and instead consider themselves "Europeans" who happen to speak different languages and eat different foods. Borders and labels, nationalism of any kind, is to be excised or sublimated to the god of "European-ness", and former conventions surrounding nationality and culture are to be laughed at as "constructs".
Unless, of course, you happen to be French, in which case, suddenly French culture, language, art, etc., should have a special place reserved for it.
Extend this to North Africans and Muslims living within this new European world; they are not racially native to Europe, which is a mostly homogenous place. While Europeans may have differences among them they are still Caucasians. So, the newcomers don't "blend in" to begin with. You can put a Norwegian and a Belgian in the same room, and except for slight differences in costume and hygiene, so long as they were silent , you could not place them. Keep that same European duo in the room and add an Algerian, a Morroccan, and an Ivory Coast-er, and it becomes easy to tell the difference.
Which is why pretending to be European instead of Danish and Italian doesn't work for these folks in the societies in which they live. They are set apart. They don't belong. Their very appearance reinforces those notions, and despite the attempts to force a belief that "color doesn't matter" or that "all cultures are fundamentally the same", it's difficult to buck human nature, which naturaly persuades you to seek the differences before you find the common ground.
Naturally, being of the group labelled "the other" in a homogenous society leads to other things. For a start, these people (the rioters) mostly have their roots in regions that were conquered, colonized and exploited by European countries. Four hundred years of colonialism and imperialism have left a scar; not on them, but on the conquerors. And not just a single scar, this scarring takes many forms.
So, it's possible to hear an "enlightened" Frenchman talk about equality one minute and curse the lazy nigger who's late bringing his latte the next, complete with regurgitated racisim that floated around France for centuries before he was born. You think this doesn't happen? Ask the Jews, who have taken this kind of thing in every European country they've set foot in. This residual racism is impossible to erase by government fiat or re-education because it is subconcious. It is ingrained in the culture.
Imperalism left other scars on Europe. Guilt being merely the worst one of all. Guilt over the despoilation of Africa and Asia, the slave trade, the legions of sweating Indian coolies, the dead Vietnamese, Siamese, Sri Lankans, Malays, Zulus, Levant Arabs, Persians, Aborigines, etc, etc, in the name of "King and Country" or "merchantilism" have had a deep effect on the European psyche, particularly after the dissolution of the European Empires. This manifests itself in a kind of patronising deferrence that is both enabling and disabling. On the one hand, it excuses the worst excesses of a particular group because of a legitimate historic grievance, and on the other hand, saps the will of the aggrieved to actually fend for themselves because guilt-ridden European governments and intellectuals will provide for them. It's pennance for the sins of Imperialism.
Which leads us to the question of unchecked immigration.
When you import "the Other" in the millions, simply pay them to exist, or if they should want to actually work, cut them off at the pass with racism, condescension and well-meaning-but-inept government handouts and overtures, and work rules that would choke a hippo, then don't expect them to actually want to be part of your society. They get the impression that you really don't want them anyway.
When you begin to tear at their culture, for many the only thing they know or have, in the attempt to "Europeanize" the non-European, then do not be surprised when they get really angry and start burning Citroens in record numbers. In recent years, France has passed laws banning the wearing of headscarves, has decreed that religion has no place in a modern society, has targeted 700 or more religious groups in France as being a threat to the nation, or claim to defend human rights and freedom while you're in bed with Saddam Hussein (a man many of these people fled from, or from other despots like him), don't look so bewildered.
When Danes vote to make Danish the chief lingua franca and the result is to make it more difficult for immigrants to assimilate, then don't be so surprised when the Others raise a stink over it.
When the Swedish government assumes the mantle of "abortion provider for Europe", don't be so shocked when a group of people who hold deep religious and cultural beliefs that run counter to this proposition get upset.
The problem is not so much Chirac and his cronies (although they are certainly guilty as hell of an awful lot) as much as it is an attitude that permeates European society. It is an attitude of hypocrisy, condescension, arrogance, disrespect, racism and radical thinking that defies the logical lessons of the 10,000 year history of civiliztion.
Chirac, in my opinion, is done for. He was some time ago. The riots will merely speed up the process. He is as much a victim of what I've discussed as anyone on the street lobbing Molotovs at public transport. Europe has three roads it might now travel:
a) It could capitulate and we'll see the first Continent-wide Islamic revolution from Portugal to Poland.
b) It could fight back, brutally, restricting immigration, beginning a program of mass, forced deportations and violence on a scale that is currently unimaginable.
c) It could make an effort to live up to the ideals and values it preaches so haughtily to us Americans and start actually beginning the process of becoming a melting pot not just for Europeans, but for everyone on the continent.
I foresee a combination of all three. The riots will be put down, probably viciously as they escalate. The Europeans, starting with the French, will cave into many of the demands of some of the more radical and violent spokespeople and front groups for the rioters. These "compromises" will seem small and reasonable, but will eventualy blossom into the proverbial turd in the punchbowl, while Europeans once deluded by guilt now delude themselves that they've bought peace. The process will repeat itself.
And the process will eventually subsume that monstrosity called the E.U. It is the E.U.'s stated scoial and ethical philosophy that is being tested in the fires of Paris. Not Chirac. He's had his test on the first night of the riots and failed to answer the bell.
And this scares the French more than anything else; that their beautifully-crafted European Union will lie a-smoldering in the streets of Paris when the continent that believes Europeans can be "citizens of the world" can't seem to acknowledge that someone of a different race can be a citizen of Paris.