Thursday, November 03, 2005

Un frisson pour la France

I obviously have little idea of what is carried on the American media these days. Heck, when I was living in the States, I never watched TV and so still had trouble w/ that. But France is undergoing some really difficult events right now.
It kinda reminds me of the May 1968 demonstrations in France.
Obviously, there are quite a few dissimilarities, but these riots have been going on for 7 days now.
But I guess I would like to comment a bit on my understanding of how and why these are developing. First of all, Paris is not like an American city, where the poorest districts (the ghetto, IOW) surround the downtown area and other central parts of the city and the most prosperous areas tend to be the suburbs. In the US, these suburbs developed spontaneously as the cities grew and people didn't want to live in such constricted quarters - they wanted backyards, swimming pools, 3-car garages, and 2000 sq ft floorplans. Market forces caused their growth. In general, this is not the case w/ Parisian suburbs. Rather, the govt, for whatever reason, created the suburbs around Paris out of thin air and then tried to get people to move there. What is that if not a planned (socialist) economy idea? My guess as to why the govt decided on that course of action is that they needed to keep the central part of Paris safe for tourism and more crime-free. So, many poorer people started moving out to the suburbs.
There are some good things about this idea - reducing crime is nice, central Paris is an astoundingly wonderful place to visit, Paris also built a very efficient mass transit system along w/ the suburbs, and traffic is much less of an issue b/c of it. Good job.
However, the govt projects in the suburbs have long been hotbeds for crime and dissatisfaction.
Which brings us to the Muslim issue. France has, for years, treated the 5-million-strong-and-growing Muslim population w/ a 2-faced approach. On the one hand, the govt "stands up for Muslims" in opposing, for example, the US' intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yasser Arafat's wife and kids have long lived in Paris (and the kids attend an expensive private school, as I understand it. And why not, when you've got $Many-Millions to burn like he did?) and the French govt opposes Israel in almost any action it takes to protect itself against people who blow up themselves and buses full of old people, children, and other non-gun-toting types. And the govt has been trying to appease Muslims in mostly not going after illegal immigrants (much like the US govt does next to nothing to stem a similar flow across the Mexican border). However, French law allows for anyone to ask someone to remove a religious symbol in a public building or otherwise to call them to be arrested. At 1st, I thought this was about cross necklaces, but rather it is about the Muslim hijab (the veil for women). The French govt is unable to get most of these Muslims to assimilate into French-ness and also many of these Muslims are growing very restless b/c they can't get a decent job b/c 1) they really sometimes are discriminated against, and/or 2) they are illegals. But illegal or not, they feel entitled to sthg more.

At any rate, I hope that these riots continue to grow in France until the govt has to exert a great deal of effort to put them down. And then, let us all pray that France's politicians and population will be shocked out of their complacency and radically reconsider their lives and ideas. France is crippling itself thru so many of its policies - if the govt will adopt more American-style policies, it will go far in recovering from its material problems. But on a deeper level, France is dying inside - only the Gospel of Christ can bring it real life. If you want more info on that, just shoot me an email or leave a comment...
Perhaps a great conflict w/in the society will bring some or many to the realisation that the relativism they hold to holds no water.

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