Can Europe Save Itself? What I Saw in Paris

Bookworm recently asked, “is Europe trying to save itself?” To that question, I can only offer anecdotal evidence from family and business visits made to France and Belgium this summer, shortly after the Greece-precipitated financial crisis.

Europe (witness the EU) is an uber-bureacracy. For centuries, Europe’s forms of governance have devolved into top-down, centralized governments that control virtually every aspect of individual life while disenfranchising the connections between citizenry and the ruling classes.  These trends metastasized under the EU and, following adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon in May, a treaty that cemented the supra-national power of the unelected EU authority. “Europe” effectively ceased being democratic. In tandem with this trend, European citizens have been conditioned to think less as “citizens” and more as “subjects” of their governments. Today, the only real power of dissent left to them has been to riot destructively in the streets or to paralyze their countries in strikes (France maintains a separate police force 100% dedicated to dealing with social disturbances). Setting parked cars on fire (car-b-cues) is a charming French tradition of civic protest that is now spreading to other European countries.

In this Bismarkian state model, the trade-off for political disenfranchisement has been a guarantee that the social welfare state would take care of all its citizens’ needs: retirement pensions, joblessness benefits at a high fraction of one’s previous salary, “free” education, public safety and health care. In France, this compact is proudly referred to in Orwellian terminology as “Solidarity”.  The EU compact also offered an end to Europe’s perpetual war and tribalism. As one of my elderly relatives put it to me, “my grandparents lived through three wars, my parents live through two and I lived through one. With the EU, I could hope that my children would never know war”. It’s an appealing vision.

Thus, for the greater perceived good, the vaste majority of citizens in France and other EU countries passively accepted what was handed to them, be it political correctness, Islamic migration, or economic and tax policy: why waste time worrying about what one cannot change? Such issues were best left for the ruling elites to address. Unfortunately, such also generated a toxic blend of cynicism, pacifism and lassitude laced with a nihilistic hedonism. Europeans stopped caring, partied on and stopped having babies. When government strips life of meaning, what’s the point of meaningful living, right? The Euros lost pride in self and pride in their own nations and cultures. They also lost their sense of civic responsibility. Whenever disaster struck in Europe (floods, heat waves, violence), I could not help but notice how passively Europeans deferred to authorities for help, rather than helping themselves. Rampant theft and vandalism is accepted as part of normal life: car windows are routinely smashed. In the nicest neighborhoods of Paris, the bottom floor windows of homes are paned in bullet-proof glass to discourage home invasions, which are accepted as quite normal occurrences…even in daytime. The cops seldom respond. In Europe, the victim is often treated as the perp while the criminal is perceived as the victim. One seldom if ever sees ordinary citizens sandbagging during floods the way we do in the U.S., for example – everyone looks out for themselves and leaves the heavy lifting to the “authorities”. Pacifism and passivity go hand-in-hand.

When visiting my relatives in France in the past, I could be assured that most (not all) had only vague ideas about what was happening in their country, their economy and the world. Most accepted the dispositions of the (mostly government controlled) media at face value. Moreover, why worry about the present and future (e.g., why save for retirement) when the government’s “Solidarity” will take care of it for you? And, while my focus in this discourse is on France, be assured that these observations apply also to Europe in toto.

All this has changed.

The Greek crisis, which closely followed the international banking crisis, caused a severe crisis of confidence and with it, an awakening. As a Dutch business associate remarked to me, “how can it be that we must work hard to pay taxes in the North until the age of 68 so that people in Greece can work hardly at all, pay no taxes and retire at the age of 60?”. Europe, like the U.S., is broken and broke.

The Greek crisis forced average Europeans to realize that the entire economic and political structures upon which their “solidarity” depended was about to collapse as the economic and political contradictions of the EU socialist state came to a head. An elderly gentleman I know – a world renown attorney, a member of the French Resistance, a former advisor to French prime ministers as well as to a U.S. president and an ardent supporter of the EU – looked at me and said, “it’s all finished, now”. I asked him “what”, exactly, was finished. He replied, “The EU, our peace and our prosperity”. The people, for the first time, were realizing that there was no money to pay for it all. For the first time ever, I saw fear and doubt in my relatives’ eyes. For the first time, I saw graffiti (most European towns are plastered with graffiti) and posted flyers denouncing the EU along with EU policies toward immigration. For the first time, I saw a steely flintiness in peoples’ eyes (not just in France) when the subject of Islamic immigration into Europe was raised. I saw also a new appreciation by Europeans of their heritage and values. Nationalism is on the rise. I saw more pride in France and its history, especially among the young. My daughter, who had been studying in France on an exchange program, remarked that many of the college students with whom she studied were returning to the Church and expressed a new-found resolve and pride in their country and heritage.

Before one can solve a problem, one must first recognize and define the problem. Europeans are still far from ready to take charge of their destiny. I just don’t know if average EU citizens have the wherewithal to resist and upend the uber-State and its entrenched ruling classes. A Tea Party movement would be inconceivable to Europeans, for example.  However, I do believe that average Europeans are waking up to the crisis and beginning to define the problems…all problems, including the one of Islamicization. This trend will continue, especially as new economic and political crises inevitably appear. In Europe, as in the U.S., the entire “solidarity” compact between State and Subject is about to go humpty-dumpty as reality sunders its foundations.  I suspect that the consequences will be very, very ugly. I saw evidence of this on my visit to Flanders, but that will have to await another post.

I do know that what eventually happens in Europe will have profound consequences for our country as well. This is not a crisis of European civilization but of Western civilization. We all face the same abyss.

AP writer seeks inspiration in trashy romances

This is supposed to be a “news” story about the Obama family trip to Paris.  It strikes me as coming much closer to a bad bodice ripper, with scary Messianic overtones:

People gawked and cameras clicked as the Obamas cut a wide figure through the French capital even while confined to a presidential motorcade. It was more personal for the few kept not so distant — the restaurant owner who “saw God,” the chauffeur reveling in a “magnificent mission.”

President Barack Obama, wife Michelle and their two daughters touched lives in simple ways during a private stay in the French capital that closed out a six-day presidential tour rich in history, symbolism and giant messages to the world.

[snip]

Michelle Obama, whose wardrobe choices are analyzed, gets an A-plus [from the French] for sartorial glamor, natural poise and sheer intelligence.

But the common touch the first American couple represents, so antithetical to the traditional pomp and circumstance of French heads of state, sets them apart.

[snip]

Boudon [a restaurant owner] was over the moon.

[snip]

“I saw God before me,” he said, “because I saw this smile that a million people have seen around the world. I saw her (Michelle) radiant. … It’s idiotic, but it’s like that.”

[snip]

Even the conservative Sarkozy appreciates Obama’s personal style and, multiplying direct contact with citizens, is desanctifying the office.

Barf.

By the way, have any of you noticed that while George Bush was lambasted for the fact that he’d never seen the world, Obama gets a free pass for the fact that (as far as I know) his international travels consisted for two years in an Indonesian madrassa when he was a kid, plus short visit to an obscure African village?  Apparently that’s enough to make him a sophisticate, and have people drooling over his big-boned woman.

Jerusalem — and Paris

The French Foreign Ministry has taken umbrage at the notion that Israel claims sole proprietorship over its capital city, Jerusalem.  Never mind that those who wish to share Jerusalem with the Israelis (a) deny that Israel even exists and (b) would like to see all of Israel’s Jewish citizens dead.

You know, if we’re going to go around sharing capitals, I think Paris is far too insular, insofar as it considers itself merely the capital of France.  As someone who, despite Sarkozy, has trouble warming up to France, I think I’m fairly similarly situated to the Muslims who have, shall we say, trouble warming up to Israel.  I think, therefore, that Paris should be my capital too.  And since it will be my capital, I should have all of the rights of the French citizens who currently lay claim to that City.

I can see it now.  Because there are more of us Americans who dislike France, than there are Frenchmen in total, when elections come around regarding Paris, we win.  I can just see Paris in a few years under this regime:  Those rude, condescending, supercilious French people, and those hostile, antisemitic, misogynistic North African Muslims will have been cordoned off in a small French section (possibly one of the infamous banlieus).  The rest of Paris will be ours.  We’ll have a McDonald’s on every level of the Eiffel Tower; Hillary’s hippie museum can take up a wing (or maybe two) in the Louvre; there’ll be power boat races on the Seine; the dollar will be the accepted currency; and police officers will be helpful and polite.

Oh, and if the French are right about Jerusalem, I can see that too:  Lots of filth and dead Jews.  End of story.

It is already happening there

The other day, I asked “can it happen here?“  The Radio Patriot reminded me that it is already happening there, in France.  Mark Steyn talked about the demographic destruction of Europe in his book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It.  But he didn’t include maps.  The most striking thing in the link to the post about the radical changes in France is the growth in the number of mosques.

In our children’s lifetime, the Catholic nation of France, the nation that was at the center of unimaginable bloodshed to maintain its Catholic identity (think of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, for example), will become a Muslim nation through a fairly bloodless, demographic coup.  So fall great nations.  I’ve never been a huge francophile, but I find this sad in a way I did not find the fall of the Soviet Union, an empire collapse I thought was (to borrow from Martha Stewart) a “good thing.”

What happens when the state is transcendent

People have always recognized Napoleon’s over-weening ego.  Heck, we have a whole phrase for it, especially when applied to men of shorter stature:  “Napoleon complex.”  Still, Napoleon is generally admired for breaking down the last medieval walls on the European continent, both figuratively and literally.  Also, people with a bone to pick against British Imperialism like the way in which he kept the British on their toes for decades.  And considering that he lost to the imperialist power, he has the lovely smell about him of a victim of, yes, imperialism.  In France, he’s lauded for breaking down social barriers and bringing about universal education.  All of which leads to the “but….” sentence, explaining why we shouldn’t admire him too much.

It turns out that there is quite a big “but” to append to Napoleon’s accomplishments — and it may explain, beyond the shared idea of world domination, just why Hitler admired Napoleon so much.  More than 120 years before Hitler, Napoleon was big on mass torture and genocide, including gassing 100,000 people to death using sulfur smoke in ship holds.  As with the Nazis, Napoleon believed in collective punishment, public torture and execution, and the destruction of those races he deemed inferior (Caribbean blacks, and Turks).

It all makes for harrowing reading, and it reminds us, yet again, that a State has no conscience so that, once its leaders set a goal, there is nothing to stop their most extreme efforts to carry it out.  Conscience resides in individuals, and when they are subordinated to the state, anything goes, no matter how foul.

Hat tip:  Danny Lemieux

American voters have their eyes wide shut *UPDATED*

Terry Sater writes about the fact that, coddled by loving euphemisms, Americans are marching headlong into the same dreadful socialist experiment that failed all over Europe — a failure that took place within the lifetime of every single American voter.  This is not a case of a few centuries or even decades having dimmed the lessons.  We saw socialism die, and we’ve seen the havoc it still creates in Europe.  Nevertheless, lulled by PR-approved phrases such as “Fairness Doctrine” and “Universal Healthcare,” we’re on the verge of voting in a completely Leftist government, beginning with the White House and ending with Congress.  I urge you to read his editorial and to email it to your friends.

UPDATE:  In the above post, I included a throwaway line about the havoc of Europe.  DQ appropriately challenged that conclusory statement, pointing out that many Americans think that Europe runs perfectly.  I happen to believe the contrary is true, based on reading European newspapers, having been to Europe myself recently, and speaking to Europeans here in America.  However, a combination of laziness and business meant I never took DQ up on his request that I enlarge on that conclusion.  Fortunately, Danny Lemieux did a lot of that work for me in a comment to this post, which I’m reprinting here:

Don, Americans go to Europe as tourists. They enjoy the tourist areas where people, on a day to day basis, look happy and prosperous. You can see happy people just about anywhere in the world. Americans eat great food (because it is different) that many ordinary Europeans will never enjoy, use efficient rail systems that drain public finances, and never have to worry about negotiating their ways through the regulatory mazes that define day-to-day life in those societies.

I happen to think Paris is one of the most beautiful and happy places in the world. I love visiting there.

What American tourists will never see is that I have solid upper-middle-class relatives in Paris, living in affluent neighborhoods, who must park their cars on their tiny lawns in locked compounds for fear of getting their cars torched or stolen, have bullet proof glass on their first-floor windows to prevent (prevalent) home invasion, whose daughters are terrified of being gang raped by Muslims “youths” (“un tournant”) and who, either foolishly or because their tax system leaves them relatively little disposable income, have failed to save for their retirement because their government promised to take care of them in their old age…when it is becoming quite apparent that their government can’t… and won’t. One of the reasons (foolish as it may be) that European governments are frantically allowing swarms of Muslim immigrants to invade their countries is because they need laborers to keep the economy going as European baby boomers retire, having left behind far-to-few children to take their place.

For the most part, Europe is no longer democratic. Ordinary people long ago lost their ability to make themselves heard, other than by rioting. Their governments are ruled by distant, unelected aristocratic elites, most of whom reside in Brussels. Freedom of speech? Forget it. Right to self-defense? Forget it. The right to own property? For far too many Europeans, forget it? As my astute daughter observed, they are simply regressing to their historical comfort zone, one defined by landlord and serf relationships.

Europe is a cesspool of age-old mistakes that get repeated over and over and over again. Americans just don’t know how good we have it here because we so-called “sophisticated” Americans have never had a proper frame of reference.

So, I will always love to go to Europe as an American visitor, but I go with no illusions about what it is and where it is going.

Some quick hits from the Brits *UPDATED*

Britain’s Telegraph has three interesting articles, and the London Times one:

Read about the vast difference between Britain’s and France’s socialized medicine. I’d certainly like to know what accounts for the difference before I start making changes to the American system. Color me skeptical, but I bet Obama, who shows himself to be remarkably ignorant about so many things, doesn’t know.

Speaking of the NSH, here’s one man’s story of what happened to him when he tried to improve his treatment for cancer. It’s a reminder that a whole bunch of socialism is less concerned with getting a good deal for all and much more concerned with making sure that some guy over there doesn’t get a better deal.

One British columnist offers a good analysis pointing to a McCain victory in November.

And some good news: Although it’s for the wrong reason (shock collateral damage in the form of Muslim deaths), some of the most outspoken clerics in the Islamic world are starting to turn on Al Qaeda. (H/t Danny Lemieux, who read it at Flopping Aces.)

UPDATE: You have to read this one too: Melanie Phillips’ marvelous op-ed about the way in which the British body politic is trying to bamboozle Brits into ceding all national power to the European Union (and the way in which plucky little Ireland is the one thing that stands in the way).  Phillips also disclosed the really dirty little secret, which is that the horses have already left the barn:  the EU controls most of British day-to-day life already.

Not that France ever had free speech as we understand it….

. . . but this is sad:

Brigitte Bardot was convicted Tuesday of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing that Muslims are destroying France.

A Paris court also handed down a $23,325 fine against the former screen siren and animal rights campaigner. The court also ordered Bardot to pay $1,555 in damages to MRAP.

Bardot’s lawyer, Francois-Xavier Kelidjian, said he would talk to her about the possibility of an appeal.

A leading French anti-racism group known as MRAP filed a lawsuit last year over a letter she sent to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. The remarks were published in her foundation’s quarterly journal.

In the December 2006 letter to Sarkozy, now the president, Bardot said France is “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”

Bardot, 73, was referring to the Muslim feast of Aid el-Kebir, celebrated by slaughtering sheep.

French anti-racism laws prevent inciting hatred and discrimination on racial or religious or racial grounds. Bardot had been convicted four times previously for inciting racial hatred.

“She is tired of this type of proceedings,” he said. “She has the impression that people want to silence her. She will not be silenced in her defense of animal rights.”

Bardot’s extreme animal rights activism isn’t my cup of tea, and there’s no doubt that she’s allied herself with France’s less savory political right wing, but neither of those behind-the-scenes facts goes to the point that someone is being fined for expressing political speech that might hurt someone’s feelings.

On a slightly different, slightly the same topic, I was at a school meeting yesterday reviewing results from a parents’ poll.  The questions covered a variety of topics, and the parents had the opportunity to give narrative answers (in addition to the usual “strongly agree, agree, disagree” crap which creates black and white in a world of gray).

Anyway, the essays came back with some parents happy about things, some parents unhappy about things, and some parents obviously nut cases.  The happy parents expressed generalized happiness; the unhappy parents were very specific about their dislikes, and pretty consistent from one parent to another; and the whack jobs were unintelligible.

The core information in the responses, once you got rid of vague and loony stuff, was practical and helpful.  Nevertheless, the very strong feeling at the meeting was that the information should not go to the teachers because the negative (practical) information might hurt their feelings.  I was the lone dissenting voice.  Am I the only person left in the world who, although hating bad news, nevertheless feels that it can be useful?

I should add here that no teachers were mentioned by name.  There were no personal insults.  These were comments that went to the system as a whole, and can be remedied only by the system as a whole.  But the general consensus was that the teachers’ fragile egos just couldn’t take the hit.

Aaaggh!!!

Better late than never

You’ve heard of Muhammad Al-Durah:  this is the boy whom Israeli soldiers purportedly killed in a gun battle.  The image of this alleged death was caught on video, broadcast on French TV, and sparked the Second Intifatah, with its thousands of lives lost.

The only problem is that the video was almost certainly faked.  Although it is not known whether Al-Durah never died, or whether he died as a result of Palestinian gun fire, the one thing that is clear is that Israeli soldiers could not possibly have killed him.

In France, Philippe Karsenty began complaining about this big lie, and was promptly sued for libel.  He lost at trial, but appealed.  The appeal has been going on forever, but news is coming out of France that it’s over — and that Karsenty prevailed.  In other words, a French appellate court has held that Karsenty did not make any libelous statements when he accused France2 TV of intentionally televising false footage.

Sadly, we all know that, once the lie takes hold, the fact that the truth eventually emerges is irrelevant.  The lie has a life of its own, and dominates the discourse until decades into the future, when the history books are written.  Nevertheless, it is some small consolation that one brave man, who confronted the lie head on, has finally been vindicated.

“Youths” honor decedents of “ethnic descent” by continuing to attack French police

I kid you not — the language I put in quotations in this post caption is the precise language the BBC uses to describe those who are engaged in a little bit of urban unrest In France. You know, the kind of innocuous urban rioting that results in more than 80 policeman being injured from beatings and bullets. Here, let me show you:

At least 10 cars have been burned and a fire broke out at a library in Toulouse, southern France, following consecutive nights of rioting in Paris.

There was also more violence in the capital as youths set cars on fire in the suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, the Associated Press news agency reports.

***

Relatives of the two dead teenagers, who were both from ethnic minorities, have insisted that police rammed their motorcycle before leaving them to die. (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s it. That’s all the information the BBC is going to give you about those rioters. But in this internet day and age, “ve haf vays” of finding out more information, even though it’s tough, very tough to do so. The Bloomberg report, for example, coyly hints at the ethnic nature of the “unrest” (Bloomberg’s word, not mine), by stating that “In France, poor neighborhoods and housing projects where many immigrants live tend to be far from city centers.” Hmm. Immigrants from where, I wonder? But we’re putting the pieces together. We’ve now got immigrant communities with people of ethnic descent.

AP, surprisingly is fairly forthright about the nature of the suburbs in which this year’s batch of riots is taking place, although it can’t resist implying that the poor innocents doing the attacking are doing so righteously because of their alienation: “The unrest showed that anger still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.” And again, “Youths, many of them Arab and black children of immigrants, again appeared to be lashing out at police and other targets seen to represent a French establishment they feel has left them behind.”

I’m sorry to say that the British paper The Independent is no help at all. While it boldly calls the youthful attacks on police something akin to “guerrilla warfare,” it places the blame firmly where it belongs: on the police. You see, last year, long after the riots ended, it turned out that the two youths who were electrocuted had been acting innocently when the police chased them into the power substation, knowing it was dangerous. (It does not appear that this was known when the actual riots happened, of course.) In other words, The Independent agrees with AP that the current crop of youths is righteously upset about the two kids killed while on the motor scooters, clearly justifying anarchy.

So, both at home and abroad, the MSM narrative is as follows: Young people are rioting in Paris and, in true “if it bleeds it leads” tradition, the news reports will happily tell you that they’re organized, they’re armed, and they’re incredibly aggressive, so much so that scores of police have been injured, and we’re not even talking property damage. If you insist on knowing more about who these people are, we’ll hint that they’re friends of youths of ethnic descent, and that they live in neighborhoods that have primarily Arab and African immigrants and their children.

If you suspect that part of the problem might be that these Arab and African immigrants are Muslim, please be assured that you are wrong. In the ponderous language of social scientists, the reporters will assure you that the riots/unrest/guerrilla warfare problem is entirely due to (1) the government’s treating these youths badly and (2) the fact that it emerged after last year’s riots that the police might have lied about their run-in with two of these same types of youths.

By the way, I don’t have any doubt but that part of the reason — even a large part of the reason — that these riots happen is because French society, indeed most European society, is set up so that there is no path to integration and assimilation for immigrants. That societal failure to absorb immigrants means that they’re going to be sitting in slums that become powder kegs of anger, unrest and, eventually, violence. Believing that, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe that another, possibly significant, part of the problem is that there is a connection in this day and age between Muslims and violence. And when news reports play so coy, rather than my ending up believing that Islam has nothing to do with the violence, I tend to believe that Islam does have something to do with the violence and that the press is simply avoiding an issue it does not want to address.

And by the way, this kind of media avoidance syndrome — where you have to read through scads of articles to gather the puzzle pieces that shape the whole picture — is not limited to youth violence. Over at Big Lizards, Dafydd has taken the time to investigate the hidden, and very sordid, connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA, with the latter being a database marketer that knowingly sells information about vulnerable populations (the old and the sick) to organizations that run scams on these same people. He’s also taken the time to smell a rat in the article that purports to show a racist/religious-ist Romney refusing to contemplate the possibility of a Muslim holding a high government position in his administration. (Note to MSM types: it’s the carefully placed ellipses that always end up giving you away.)

My bottom line to the media: either report the news or stop pretending that you do.

UPDATE: It’s currently hidden behind the WSJ’s subscription wall, but John Fund has written a great article about Nancy Pelosi’s current effort to make America more like France by working to ensure that the current generation of immigrants remains stuck forever in non-English speaking poverty. Consistent with fair use, I’ll give you just a taste of what Fund has to say, and we’ll hope that the WSJ soon releases the article for general consumption:

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn’t think that’s controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

UPDATE II: More on liberal efforts to keep minorities ghettoized.

UPDATE III: For a literary touch, I’ll just throw in one more thing. Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ve been re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, one of my favorite novels from England in the mid-1930s. (Even though it’s a mystery, I view it as a novel because, after many readings, there are no mysteries left in that book for me.) The book takes place at Oxford, and has a healthy respect for the old-fashioned idea of academic objectivity. Sayers therefore has one of her characters, during a discussion with someone about a history book, say the following:

“I entirely agree that a historian ought to be precise in detail; but unless you take all the characters and circumstances concerned into account, you are reckoning without the facts. The proportions and relations of things are just as much facts as the things themselves, and if you get those wrong, you falsify the picture really seriously.”

The whole book, incidentally, is a testament to examining facts without allowing private belief systems or loyalties to interfere with ones understanding of those facts.

A petition to sign regarding freedom of truthful information

As you probably know, both the Second Intifadah and a sudden and dramatic nosedive in Israel’s already low standing around the world got their impetus from a horrific video shown on French TV: the death of 12 year old Palestinian boy as collateral damage in a shoot out between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. Muhammad Al-Durah became an instant martyr. Of course, as you probably also know, it was a fake. It never happened. It was a propaganda coup from beginning to end, all done with the complicity of France2.

Although the video’s fakery has been exposed, France2 holds more footage which, in a just and moral world, should be released, both to clear Israel fully and to hold up for censure all involved in this canard that resulted in so much spilled blood. If you would like to be a part of pressing for the release of all footage, go here and sign the petition.

Sadly, although the petition has been floating around for a few days, and has gotten some exposure at large blogs (Pajamas Media, Augean Stables, Captains Quarters, etc.), it isn’t getting a lot of signatures. I’m sure there are some people who think “Eh, this is old news and it’s French TV, so why does it really matter to me?” It matters because this story is just one in a series of corrupt stories that are being pushed around the world to manipulate public opinion. Perhaps each alone is unremarkable, but taken together, they represent a vast paradigm shift in the way worldwide public opinion is being changed, not based on facts, but based on falsehoods. It should concern all of us when we begin to function, not in a marketplace of ideas, but in a marketplace of Orwellian misinformation.

UPDATE: And if you’re in the mood for signing petitions that make important points, N.Z. Bear, known to all of us for his ecosystem, has put together a petition urging Congress to support General Petraeus and the Surge.

You’ve just got to love the AP

In a lengthy article about increasingly aggressive rioting in the Paris suburbs, the AP manages only reference to “Muslim” and that with an oblique reference to France’s failure to give Muslim’s economic opportunities. The article carefully refrains from identifying by religion the current crop of gun-wielding, bus-burning “youths.”  If you can read code, though, you’ll learn that some participants in a memorial march for the two “youths” whose deaths sparked last years riots read prayers in Arabic (probably not the Lord’s prayer, if you get the AP’s oh-so-subtle drift). The following is just a bit of the “news” report (’cause it’s not really news if you leave out the main point) :

Police deployed 4,000 reinforcements as marauding youths torched at least two public buses Friday, the anniversary of the deaths of two teenagers that ignited weeks of riots in largely immigrant housing projects across France.

After the buses were burned, Paris’ transport authority curtailed bus service in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of the capital, which is home to thousands of immigrants and their French-born children.

Thierre Ange, a 19-year-old witness, said four men attacked the bus, “made everyone get off, then they hit a woman and dragged out the bus driver by his tie” and torched the bus with a gasoline bomb in a bottle. The blackened carcass of another bus that was burned earlier stood across town in Le Blanc Mesnil.

Flaming cars became a symbol of the rioting last year, which jolted France into recognizing a failure to give equal opportunities to many minorities – especially those of Arab and black African origin – and the country’s 5 million-strong Muslim population.

***

Last year’s outburst of anger at the accidental deaths of the two teens – who were electrocuted in a power substation in Clichy-sous-Bois, northeast of Paris, while hiding from police on Oct. 27, 2005 – grew into a broader challenge of the French state.

Several hundred people marched silently Friday through Clichy-sous-Bois in honor of Zyed Benna and Bouna Traore. Benna, 17, was buried in his father’s native Tunisia. Traore, 15, was of Mauritanian descent.Adolescent boys in hooded sweat shirts made up a large part of the mixed-race crowd, their heads bent as prayers were read in Arabic and French.  (Emphasis mine.)

I also like the way the article conveniently ignores the fact that the two boys electrocuted last year were electrocuted, if I remember correctly, as they ran from the police in an attempt to avoid arrest.

The poulets are coming home to roost

France has always been at the vanguard of the move to accommodate radical Islam. Whether it’s refusing to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq, refusing to join the coalition in Iraq, undermining Israel, or fawning over Arafat, you can count on the French for groveling, self-interested appeasement. It’s appropriate, therefore, that the French should be the first to demonstrate the inevitable effect of appeasement: those to whom you pander will invariably turn on you. If you read LGF, you’ll know that the French have for weeks been defending against increasingly aggressive attacks from those suburban “youths” wwho such a significant part of its up-and-coming Gen Z.Recognizing France’s inability suddenly to produce backbone, those same youths are leaving the banlieus, packing guns, and taking the battle to some more serious targets than just cars:

Youths forced passengers off three buses and set them on fire overnight in suburban Paris, raising tensions Thursday ahead of the first anniversary of the riots that engulfed France’s rundown, heavily immigrant neighborhoods.

No injuries were reported, but worried bus drivers refused to enter some suburbs after dark, and the prime minister urged a swift, stern response.

The riots in October 2005 raged through housing projects in suburbs nationwide, springing in part from anger over entrenched discrimination against immigrants and their French-born children, many of them Muslims from former French colonies in Africa. Despite an influx of funds and promises, disenchantment still thrives in those communities.

About 10 attackers – five of them with handguns – stormed a bus in Montreuil east of Paris early Thursday and forced the passengers off, the RATP transport authority said. They then drove off and set the bus on fire.

Late Wednesday, three attackers forced passengers off another bus in Athis-Mons, south of Paris, and tossed a Molotov cocktail inside, police officials said. The driver managed to put out the fire. Elsewhere, between six and 10 youths herded passengers off a bus in the western suburb of Nanterre late Wednesday and set it alight.

***

The overnight attacks and recent ambushes on police have raised concern about the changing character of suburban violence, which is seemingly more premeditated than last year’s spontaneous outcry and no longer restricted to the housing projects. The use of handguns was unusual – last year’s rioters were armed primarily with crowbars, stones, sticks or gasoline bombs.

Regional authorities said the Nanterre bus line, which passes near Paris’ financial district, had not been considered at a high risk of attack. Francois Saglier, director of bus service at the RATP, said the attacks happened “without prior warning and not necessarily in neighborhoods considered difficult.”  (Emphasis mine.)

By the way, do note that, while the article starts with that useful noun “youths,” by the third paragraph we’re hearing that they’re mostly Muslim.  I wonder how long it will take before that information finally appears in the first paragraphs of these stories.

Assimilation versus multiculturalism in a capitalist society

As you know, there is a big debate going on in England right now about the veil. Those who support the veil are framing this support in terms of religious freedom. However, veils are not an integral part of the Muslim religion. Instead, they are a product of Arab culture. (Indeed, you only need to think of the number of devoutly religious Muslim countries in which the women have not traditionally worn veils. Indonesia and Bosnia immediately spring to mind.) The modern use of the veil outside of Saudi Arabia (whether a simple head covering or the full mask) is a political statement that began to rise to prominence as part of Arab nationalism during the 1930s.

The distinction between ritual (or culture) and religion is an important one in the debate about assimilation in a multiculturalist world. France and England demonstrate the dangers of taking either of those doctrines to extremes. At the time of the riots in Paris last year, mahy people commented on the French demand that immigrants assimilate completely — abandoning all ties to their place of origin — as a mandatory prerequisite to entering the French social and economic system. Immigrants unwilling to abandon all vestiges of their past are locked out of French society, and condemned forever to the netherworld of the banlieus. There is no middle ground. Clearly, this level of imposed assimilation doesn’t work.

England, of course, is rapidly going in the other direction regarding its immigrants. If the immigrants ask for it, they get it: In an officially Christian country, crosses are banned and St. George’s flag is pulled down. Muslim police officers are free to walk away from assignments they find distasteful or worrisome. Because Muslims won’t eat pork, cultural icons are threatened or removed entirely. (Personally, I’m deeply offended when I’m in grocery stores selling liver. Blech.) Students are arrested for pointing out that they can’t carry on a discussion with non-English speaking Pakistani students. (Although this seemed more like preemptive obedience by the school and the police than any response to Muslim complaints.) I could go on with examples, but I think we all have the sense that England’s slavish devotion to multiculturalism is also a model that doesn’t work.

There’s got to be a happy medium and, chauvinistically, I think the traditional American model (one that the Leftist’s are chipping away at to recreate the British model) is the one that works. This one says that (a) we will respect purely religious beliefs and (b) you can cling to ritual beliefs, but you have to recognize that they may hamper your ability to get ahead economically. I don’t think (a) needs much discussion. We are allowed to worship as we please in America and, while one can always dig out anomalous situations in which some boneheaded supervisor was disrespectful of an employee’s religion, that’s certainly not the American norm — nor has it been.

The more interesting point is America’s approach to ritual. Although we are officially a secular nation, we don’t have the militant secularism that characterizes France. People are free to wear Stars of David, crosses, and head scarves — all of which are ritual expressions associated with belief, rather than religious imperatives — as long as they don’t interfere with things. We’re all proud of our cultural backgrounds. Many people also find spiritual comfort in wearing religious icons, and that’s okay. However, because we’re a country governed more by the marketplace than by the government (at least until this November), our national position is that people who wish to engage in more extreme cultural rituals than small jewelry or little scarves have to be willing to take the economic hits. Thus, if you’re an Ultra-orthodox Jew, you’re not going to work for a Fortune 500 company that can’t accommodate the myriad religious rituals that underpin your life — and the government is not going to make that Fortune 500 company hire you (or, at least, not yet). To date, multiculturalists’ efforts notwithstanding, religion is still your own business, for better or for worse.

America is also totally willing to allow people to celebrate their cultures within their own homes and their own communities. A Jewish company won’t fire you because you have a Christmas tree in your home, nor will a Christian employee fire a Jew who lights Chanukah candles in December. Again, we celebrate these differences, but refuse to allow them to dominate the marketplace.

The unspoken American pact has always been that legal immigrants are welcome to cling to their traditions, but that they may do so at their own risk economically. The more you’re willing to assimilate, the better you’ll probably do. But if you don’t assimilate, there are still many opportunities. You make your choices. If the veil is overwhelmingly important to you, you limit your opportunities. If it’s of transcendent importance, maybe you should stay in your own country. We will not (or, rather, we should not) change for you.

And really, that last point is the most interesting. Why do people immigrate to Western countries? I think the obvious reason is that the majority come to enjoy the economic opportunities those Western countries offer. Whether they’re leaving Mexico for America, Turkey for Germany, or Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for England, the immigrants come for the work. It is ironic, then, that the more militant, having come to the West to enjoy the economic benefits it offers, immediately work upon the credulous multiculturalists among us to turn our Western economies into the same damaged backwaters they left behind.

As for me, here in America, I welcome immigrants who come here legally, willing to work, and accepting of the fact that they have to embrace the American pact regarding expressions of culture and religion. I am intractably hostile to immigrants who come here to escape their stagnant home countries, and then attempt to impose on us ritual beliefs and practices that will reduce us, a thriving pluralist society, to the same level of cultural and economic stagnation they ostensibly sought to escape.

UPDATE:  Minutes after I posted the above, I opened LGF and read about the British man convicted for protesting (crudely) Muslim extremists.  He was turned in by his neighbors, who feared the wrath of Muslim extremists.

Another reason not to like the French right now

From American Thinker:

The French will flex military their “military muscle” to shoot down Israeli observation jets. After years of ignoring Hezbollah preparations to terrorize Israel, after hiding a video that could have helped Israel find out what happened to soldiers murdered by Hezbollah in 2001 (the kidnappers used trucks with UNIFIL identification, trucks that UNIFIL found with the blood of the Israeli victims and that were promptly returned to Hezbollah), after providing Hezbollah with information about Israeli troop movements during the recent Hezbollah-Israel war, after stating that it will not disarm Hezbollah terrorists or prevent their return to southern Lebanon, UNIFIL finally finds some backbone: they intend to shoot at Israeli aircraft monitoring Hezbollah terrorists.

Here’s the story from Haaretz:

Commanders of the French contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon have warned that they might have to open fire if Israel Air Force warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

Peretz said that nevertheless, Israel would continue to patrol the skies over Lebanon as long as United Nations resolution 1701 remained unfilfilled, adding that such operations were critical for the country’s security, especially as the abducted IDF soldiers remain in Hezbollah custody and the transfer of arms continue.

Over the past few days, Peretz said, Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transfering arms and ammunition to Lebanon, meaning that the embargo imposed by UN Resolution 1701 was not being completely enforced.

I do not like the French. They are unprincipled.

How to pander with elan

You can’t say that the French lack style. When they pander, they do so with panache. Take their homage, as Reuters reports it, to one of the world’s major terrorist states:

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy says Tehran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East – ‘a great country, a great people and a great civilization’

Iran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East which is playing a stabilizing role, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Monday.

“It was clear that we could never accept a destabilization of Lebanon, which could lead to a destabilization of the region,” Douste-Blazy said in Beirut.

“In the region there is of course a country such as Iran – a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region,” he told a news conference.

The United States blames Iran and Syria for destabilizing the region by backing Hizbollah in Lebanon which have been battling Israeli forces for nearly three weeks.

Really, there are few things more stabilizing than a nuclear bomb in a madman’s hand.  That scenario removes all decision-making from surrounding countries.  You do what the madman asks, and you hope that you’re the last one on his hit list.  Sounds very peaceful to me, if you’re the kind of person or country that doesn’t want to be bothered with vexing little questions about right or wrong, or freedom, or respect for human-kind.

In any event, if you’re not as charmed with the French as the French are charmed with Iran, you might want to check out I-Hate-France.com, the ultimate site for those who view France with, at best, a jaundiced eye.

The canary in the coalmine

Nidra Poller writes about an aggressive anti-Semitic group on the rise in France.  The whole article is depressing, but I'd like to take special note of the article's conclusion:

Outside the ORT school, where the minister met with residents, a dapper gray-haired shop owner said, with dignified regret, “It’s over for Jews in France.” And added, “The police told me . . . they said it’s over for us . . . they can’t handle this problem. . . . It’s too late.”

First, I think that's a correct statement, but I'd extend it to cover all of Europe. 

Second, I'll point out that every country that has destroyed its Jews has itself ended up destroyed, either economically or morally.  If one wants to go way back, even the Roman Empire marked its decline not long after it defeated the Jews in Palestine, which was a singularly costly compaign.  Those Jews who embraced Christianity, of course, had the ultimate revenge.

Moving forward in time a bit, another fairly good example is Spain,which went into its economic decline after it expelled its Jews.  The correlation between this decline and the loss of its Jews was highlighted by Holland's economic resurgence after it took those same Jews in. 

As for countries whose moral decline and ultimate self-destruction was signalled by the more virulent forms of modern Jew hating, Nazi Germany is, of course, the most obvious exampel.  I think, though, that a good look at both the former Soviet Union and the current Muslim world (which, with few exceptions, has expelled all Jews) further illustrates the point about Jew hating being a sign of a dying culture — and, more to the point, a culture that dies with an exceptional violence that it releases on both its own citizens and the rest of the world.

When you read stories such as Poller's about France, be afraid, be very afraid.

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Ze French, ze are, sometimes, ‘ow you say? Icky.

I know some perfectly delightful French people — charming, kind, and intelligent. Indeed, I know many. But there is something about collecting French people in one place that seems to bring out a darker side in them. Many years ago, at a local park used by a French elementary school, several of the children didn't even bother to conspire — they just spontaneously pushed my toddler off the top of the play structure as their French school mistresses watched with a sort of passive disdain. Moving away from the small fry, we've been seeing collective French ickiness in their fawning approach to Arafat's death, in their initial casual response to Ilan Halimi's horrific murder, and in the insane student riots over policies intended to provide them with future employment. Now, we get yet another insight into the darker corners of the French collective soul:

A street in a Paris suburb has been named in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

"In France, they see him as a towering figure," said Suzanne Ross, co-chair of the Free Mumia Coalition of New York City, who was part of an April 29 ceremony to dedicate the Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal in the city of St. Denis.

Ross said the street is in the town's Human Rights district, which includes Nelson Mandela Stadium.

Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter and member of the Black Panther party, was sentenced to death in 1982 for the shooting of 25-year-old Daniel Faulkner. He has maintained his innocence. His writings and taped speeches have made him a cause celebre among Hollywood activists, foreign politicians and some death-penalty opponents who believe he was the victim of a racist justice system.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year agreed to consider three counts of Abu-Jamal's appeal, allegations that there was racial bias in jury selection, that the prosecutor gave an improper summation and that a judge in a previous appeal was biased.

Faulkner's widow, Maureen, called the street dedication "disgusting" and urged Philadelphia residents planning a visit to Paris this summer to cancel their trips. In 2001, the Paris City Council made Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen.

"This is so unnerving for me to get this news," Faulkner said from Los Angeles, where she lives. "It's insulting to the police officers of Philadelphia that they are naming a street after a murderer."

Daniel Faulkner has been honored by a memorial plaque installed at the scene of the shooting at 13th and Locust Streets in Philadelphia.

I was going to ask, rhetorically, how can a nation that prides itself on its intellectualism and sophistication rejoice in such barbaric acts? I realized, though, that the answer probably lies in the question. That same intellectualism and sophistication has drawn the French inexorably away from morality and humanity. Many in that society have intellectually analyzed themselves right out of human decency.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Because what I feel matters

Mike Adams wrote a great column today declaring his independence to act precisely as his students do:  rude, careless, and irresponsible, just because it feels good.  The reductio ad absurdum of this selfishness, of course, is what’s going on in France, where the students are perfectly happy to see the economy crater rather than to impose some minimal self-discipline on themselves for the good of society.  Dennis Prager takes that on in his column about socialism and selfishness.

Embarrassing numbers at home and abroad.

I just read a fascinating article about the anti-War march in San Francisco — fascinating, not for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say. The lede is “Anti-war protests in S.F., other cities draw thousands.” The first paragraphs again exude awe about the sheer numbers:

On the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bay Area residents gathered by the thousands in a Walnut Creek park, an Oakland theater and on the streets of San Francisco on Saturday to demand the war’s end.

The Bay Area protests, which were peaceful, were among hundreds scheduled around the nation this weekend, as opinion polls show anti-war sentiment growing among the American public. San Francisco’s march appears to have been one of the largest. [Emphasis mine.]

Cruise down the article a few more lines and you learn that a “larger-than-anticipated crowd” turned out. By this time I’m practically slobbering “How large? How large?” Well, funny you should ask. That’s the one thing the article doesn’t mention. I carefully read through the whole article, which described the protests and counter-protests, the 3,000 who turned out in Walnut Creek, the Democratic pols speaking to enthusiastic crowds, and couldn’t find a single number for that San Francisco protest.

At this point, I don’t know how many turned up. But I’m willing to bet that, had it been a significant number, that number would have been emblazoned all over the article. Its absence indicates to me that, regardless of the editorializing (“larger than expected,” “thousands,” and “one of the largest”) the numbers were disappointing for a march held in the heart of Blue. In this regard, it would be consistent with my sensethat other marches world wide were equally disappointing. Yes, London drew 15,000, but other marches seem to have been, well, fizzles. People may not like the war but we’re not seeing the revolutions of the 1960s/1970s.

In our decadent West, the real energy seems to be focused on preserving the easy life, as evidenced by the 500,000 youthful protestors all over France, complaining about the fact that they won’t instantly get tenure. Despite the moribund economy in France (and the even worse one in Germany which has the same horrible employment handcuffs), the youth of France know what matters: it’s not the disaffected — and murderous — Islamic youths among them, it’s not the declining population, it’s not the War, it’s not appalling unemployment (which is what led the government to enacted the challenged edict that slightly limits automatic and instant tenure). No, it’s all about making sure no one can fire you as your society goes down in flames around your head. Truly, France currently seems like a country set to win the Darwin awards.

UPDATE:  If you’re interested in some comments about the whole situation in France, you should read this post at A Rose By Any Other Name, in which Anna riffs beautifully off of a Thomas Sowell article on the same subject.

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