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Friday, November 11, 2005

Still in Stable Condition after One Year

Death fear said to hold back Arafat. You wouldn't think he'd be too worried about that these days. However, one of his "AIDS" reports that:
"Fear of assassination kept Yasser Arafat from accepting a US-brokered agreement on sharing Jerusalem, despite pleas by Arab and other world leaders at the time, the Palestinian leader's longtime bodyguard said in an interview."
A regular Brave Sir Robin. Just in case you thought he was afraid of the Israelis on that score:
"'Clinton was trying to convince him to agree to a deal on Jerusalem,' the bodyguard said. But, he recalled, Arafat asked the translator to tell Clinton that 'if he wants me to sign this deal, it means he wants to issue an open invitation to my funeral, because I will die at the hand of my own people.'"

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why Would This Be?

Robert Samuelson puzzled by the obvious:
"'One puzzle these days is why Americans are so confident at the shopping mall and so glum in opinion polls. By many measures, the country's prosperity is broad-based. Families are buying and renovating homes at a ferocious pace. Since
mid-2003, the number of payroll jobs has increased by 4.2 million. The unemployment rate of 5 percent is low by historic standards. But in polls, Americans are downbeat.... We have a real economy and a rhetorical economy: what's actually happening and what we say is happening. The first is often more stable than the second' -- Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson."
We'll hazard a guess: perhaps the past 3 years of the MSM continously calling a good economy bad in order to hurt Bush just might be a factor. If the Democrats were in power under these conditions we'd have been treated to daily, glowing reports about growth, jobs, and optimism.

Samuelson may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but at least he noticed the good economy.

Chirac Blames Society for Riots

French President Jacques Chirac says the riots 'exposed inequality', according to The Guardian:
"Jacques Chirac yesterday acknowledged that the urban violence in France had exposed the 'undeniable problems' faced by many inhabitants of immigrant communities, and said that they had to be responded to quickly.

The French president said discrimination and inequality were feeding the rebellion of young people in deprived suburbs. 'Whatever our origins, we are all the children of the republic, and we can all expect the same rights,' he said.
Seems like for a lot of the immigrants the main problem is their cars have been torched. Their other big problem is that the police have abandoned them to the tender mercies of violent street gangs.

According to The Guardian "only" 482 vehicles were burned last night vs. 617 in the other report. Who knows?
"Human rights groups sharply criticized Wednesday's announcement by the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, which stated that all foreigners convicted of involvement in the rioting, including those with residence permits but excluding minors, would be deported. They were even angrier at a conservative MP's white paper proposing that naturalised citizens found guilty should be stripped of citizenship. Mr Sarkozy said 120 foreigners had been arrested over the unrest."
Deporting non-citizens caught rioting seems eminently reasonable. Keeping them out may prove difficult. There are no border checks at all between France and its EU neighbors anymore. You just drive right on by. Given this, it could be hard to prevent deported troublemakers from returning. How can you deport a citizen, though? Doesn't seem like that will fly. Even deporting non-citizens caught rioting is too much for some folks:
"Dominique Sopo, president of the anti-racism group SOS Racisme, said the minister's measure was illegal as it amounted to mass deportation. French law and the European convention on human rights required expulsions to be considered case by case. Another anti-racism group, MRAP, said it was horrified by the 'dangerous proposition'. France Terre d'Asile, which assists refugees, said the measure was 'certain to add fuel to the flames'."
How rude to actually deport foreigners rioting in our streets. What has happened to tolerance? The countries they'll be sent to don't allow rioting, so what will these poor chaps do then?

Here's some background information on Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the most interesting French politician around. True, that isn't saying a lot, but he really is interesting.

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French Riots Fall Off the Front Page

The stories about the riots have dropped off the front page of GoogleNews, as the MSM rush to declare the crisis "over" almost before they discovered it was happening. Time to get back to bashing Bush or pilorying some oil company executives for making money.

It seems if you sift through the embers of the burned cars long enough, some evidence of progress can be turned up. Then again:
"Some police intelligence sources and social workers warned that yesterday's relative calm - 'only' 617 cars burned, compared with 933 the night before - might yet prove to be just a lull. Messages were found on internet sites calling for a concerted attack by suburban gangs on the centre of Paris at the weekend.
Oh, great. "Only" 617 cars were burned last night. Sounds like they might be running out of accessible cars in some areas with over 6000 already toasted.
French television and radio stations also agreed several days ago to concentrate their coverage on the consequences of the violence, rather than showing endless spectacular footage of burning cars. Officials believe this has helped to dampen the 'spirit of competition' that spread the violence from northeast Paris to poor districts of towns in every corner of France in the last two weeks.
Sounds like a sensible, responsible move on the part of the French media. That's one more thing that would never happen here.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has weighed in with his "action plan," which contained some carrots to go along with the sticks.
The aid package restores cuts in financial support to poor suburbs imposed in recent years and promises a job or apprenticeship to every youngster in France's 750 'sensitive' districts (where youth unemployment can reach 40 per cent).
Because it's all about buying them out, whatever the cost. On the stick side, over 1100 rioters have been arrested to date. Here are some interesting demographics on the arrests:
Most of the rioters are believed to be aged between 15 and 21, with some as young as 10. Almost all those arrested have criminal records and most are believed to belong to the violent criminal minority of the poor suburbs surrounding French cities. Many - but not all - come from Arab immigrant families. Others hail from Africa. There is also a sprinkling of East and Southern Europeans."
Parents, do you know where your 10-yr olds are?

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dominique de Villepin

Could it be that this sounds less stupid in French?
"'We must be lucid: The Republic is at a moment of truth,' Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told parliament. 'The effectiveness of our integration model is in question.'"
No. Especially when you follow it up with this:
"He said France must fight the discrimination that is driving the frustration of youths, who feel they aren't really considered French despite having been born here."
He then said, "Jacques, I'd like to buy a clue." There is a hell of a lot more in question and at stake than France's non-existent "integration model."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Thomas Sowell

The riots in France were a conglagration waiting for a spark. The root cause is not poverty or unemployment, but the ethic of "diversity" and "multiculturalism" in Western societies. Thomas Sowell lays it out in an article on Riots in Francel:
"In the name of tolerance, these countries [Europe and the US] have imported intolerance, of which growing antisemitism in Europe is just one example. In the name of respecting all cultures, Western nations have welcomed people who respect neither the cultures nor the rights of the population among whom they have settled. [...]

The Dutch were shocked when one of their film-makers was assassinated by a Moslem extremist for daring to have views at variance with what the extremists would tolerate. No one should have been shocked. There are people who will not stop until they get stopped -- and much of the media, the political classes, and the cultural elites of the West cannot bring themselves to even criticize, much less stop, the dangers or degeneracy among groups viewed sympathetically as underdogs.

Not all Moslems, nor necessarily a majority of Moslems, are either a cultural or a physical danger. But even 'moderate' Moslem organizations in the West who deplore violence and try to discourage it nevertheless encourage their followers to remain foreigners rather than become part of the countries they live in."
Until the West again views Western culture as noble and worth promoting and defending we are at risk. The victim/grievance mentality encouraged by our elites is poisoning us, particularly those individuals who play the victim role.

Most members of some "minority" groups do well in the US (and Europe), while members of other groups mainly do poorly. Racism and the society's attitudes toward the groups are factors in an individual's performance, but that individuals actions, decisions, aptitude, attitude and behavior are much more important factors. Until these facts are recognized and members of the underperforming groups are encouraged to emulate successful people, this underperformance will continue. Encouraging the underperformers to continue to behave in self-destructive ways and blame others for their problems does not help anyone.

Presidential Lies

For those who doubt that the President lied us into war here's the smoking gun:
"Just how big a threat was Saddam Hussein? Let's reprise what our leaders had to say on the subject. First, here's the president: 'If he refuses or continues to evade his obligations through more tactics of delay and deception, he and he alone will be to blame for the consequences. . Now, let's imagine the future. What if he fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who's really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too.'

Here is the vice president: 'If you allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons, how many people is he going to kill with such weapons? He's already demonstrated a willingness to use these weapons. He poison-gassed his own people. He used poison gas and other weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors. This man has no compunction about killing lots and lots of people. So this is a way to save lives and to save the stability and peace of a region of the world that is important to the peace and security of the entire world.'

Here's the hitch: That was Clinton and Gore in 1998, not Bush and Dick Cheney in 2002."
There you have it. Clinton and Gore lied us into a war for oil. Read the rest of Jonah Goldberg's article.

Monday, November 07, 2005

French Riots III

There is no end in sight, and further deterioration seems more likely than improvement. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin talks of curfews, but is apparently not imposing any yet. He says prefects will be able to put a curfew in place, if they think it will be useful. One wonders why that announcement wasn't accompanied by a list of places where curfews are immediately in effect. Arrests are practically meaningless. Rioters under 18 who are arrested are released the next day to their parents' custody.

The Wall Street Journal (free this week, subscription later) has an excellent review of the situation and a discussion of how Muslim groups are acting as "mediators." (There's also a javascript slideshow in the right sidebar of the WSJ page.) While the government is obviously clueless as to what to do, accepting the "help" of the Islamic groups has its own risks:

"These groups don't preach violence, but they do advocate something that is troubling Europe's secular democracies: that Muslims should identify themselves with their religion rather than as citizens. Effectively, they are promoting a separate society within society and that brand of Islamist philosophy is seeping into many parts of Western Europe. Countries from France and Germany to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands haven't succeeded in integrating their Muslim minorities -- and Islamic organizations have carefully positioned themselves to fill the breach.

The riots 'are a blessing for them because it gives them the role of intermediary,' says Gilles Kepel, a scholar who has studied and written extensively about the rise of Islam in France. That, in turn, puts them in a stronger position 'to force concessions from the state,' such as demanding a repeal of the law France passed last year banning headscarves from public schools, he says."

... and:

"There isn't anything inherently Muslim about the violence: Islamic groups appear to have played no part in stirring up the trouble, and few rioters seem to be using Islam to justify their attacks. On the contrary, many Islamic groups say they are trying to calm things down. But the bleak projects that ring Paris and France's other big cities have long been fertile recruiting grounds for Islamic groups that preach a fundamentalist form of the religion that is often hard to square with Europe's pluralistic societies.

While their mediation seems helpful in the short-term, these Islamic organizations end up further alienating Muslim youths from mainstream society because they teach an ideology that is in conflict with France's secular ideals, says Malek Boutih, a former head of human-rights group SOS Racism. 'They recruit, they teach the Quran and they try to orient everything around the mosque,' says Mr. Boutih. 'That's it.'"

The question is: Does that make them more peaceful or more radical and violent in the long run?

It's long been an article of faith, particularly in France itself, that the failure to assimilate the Muslim immigrants is due to a failure of French government and society, e.g. "racism," not enough job training, and the other "root causes" as liberalism sees things. While hostility of many Frenchmen to "outsiders" is certainly present, that is not the whole story. First of all, many Chinese immigrants (and Vietnamese before them) have rapidly assimilated and risen in social standing. Consider also the problems Holland is having with its own restive Muslims. Could there be a more open, welcoming society than the Dutch? Yet their situation is just as bad with last year's jihadist murder of filmaker Theo van Gogh and ongoing death threats to members of the Dutch Parliament by Islamists.

Yet friction and conflict with other religious and ethnic groups is a consistent theme for Muslims. It has been happening with all other religions and all other ethnic groups for centuries.

It's easy for Westerners to interpret the violence as a response to desperate conditions such as the massive unemployment that results from France's (and much of Europe's) inflexible labor markets and generous social welfare systems. However, as The Brussels Journal points out, the rioters are not angry about being rejected by French society. They consider themselves to be superior to the French, who are (in the rioters' view) beneath contempt:
Show Them Who Is the Boss in France | The Brussels Journal: "What is happening in France has been brewing in Old Europe for years. The BBC speaks of 'youths' venting their 'anger.' The BBC is wrong. It is not anger that is driving the insurgents to take it out on the secularised welfare states of Old Europe. It is hatred. Hatred caused not by injustice suffered, but stemming from a sense of superiority. The 'youths' do not blame the French, they despise them.

Most observers in the mainstream media (MSM) provide an occidentocentric analysis of the facts. They depict the 'youths' as outsiders who want to be brought into Western society and have the same rights as the natives of Old Europe. The MSM believe that the 'youths' are being treated unjustly because they are not a functioning part of Western society. They claim that, in spite of positive discrimination, subsidies, public services, schools, and all the provisions that have been made for immigrants over the years, access has been denied them.

This is the marxist rhetoric of the West that has been predominant in the media and the chattering classes since the 1960s. But it does not fit the facts of the situation in Europe today. To understand what is going on one cannot look at today's events from a Western perspective. One has to think like the 'youths' in order to understand them. Not imagine oneself in their shoes, but imagine their minds in one's own head. The important question is: how do these insurgents perceive their relationship with society in France?"
The rioters have no desire to be integrated into French society. They want to supplant it with their own, "superior" culture. Welcome to Eurabia.

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The Suicide Bombers Among Us

The Brussels Journal site pointed us to this other, excellent article by Theodore Dalrymple on the London suicide bombers. If you have wondered how "regular British kids" could go so wrong or how the 9/11 hijackers could be visiting strip clubs before their "matyrdom operation," the answers are at hand:
The Suicide Bombers Among Us by Theodore Dalrymple: "As is by now well known (for the last few years have made us more attentive to Islamic concepts and ways of thinking, irrespective of their intrinsic worth), the term 'jihad' has two meanings: inner struggle and holy war. While the political meaning connotes violence, though with such supposed justifications as the defense of Islam and the spread of the faith among the heathen, the personal meaning generally suggests something peaceful and inward-looking. The struggle this kind of jihad entails is spiritual; it is the effort to overcome the internal obstacles--above all, forbidden desires--that prevent the good Muslim from achieving complete submission to God's will. Commentators have tended to see this type of jihad as harmless or even as beneficial--a kind of self-improvement that leads to decency, respectability, good behavior, and material success.

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In Britain, however, these two forms of jihad have coalesced in a most murderous fashion. Those who died in the London bombings were sacrificial victims to the need of four young men to resolve a conflict deep within themselves (and within many young Muslims), and they imagined they could do so only by the most extreme possible interpretation of their ancestral religion."
It's really immpossible to summarize this article, so you'll need to read it yourself. Dalrymple's ideas do explain a lot. Unfortunately, understanding does not lead to ready solutions to the problem of Islamist terrorism.

Root Causes of French Riots

In today's Wall Street Journal (free this week, but probably will eventually require subscription) Theodore Dalrymple has an ironic and spot on analysis of the French Problem. He begins with, "When it comes to rioting, there's no 35-hour week in France," and it gets even better from there. Dalrymple lives in France, and he's a keen observer of la vie française: - Bonfire of the Vanities: "A Martian observing France dispassionately, without ideological preconceptions, would come to the conclusion that the French had accepted with equanimity a kind of social settlement in which all those with jobs would enjoy various legally sanctioned perks and protections, while those without jobs would remain unemployed forever, though they would be tossed enough state charity to keep body and cellphone together. And since there are many more employed people than unemployed people in France, this is a settlement that suits most people, who will vote for it forever. It is therefore politically unassailable, either by the left or the right, which explains the paralysis of the French state in the present impasse.

The only fly in the ointment (apart from the fact that the rest of the economies of the world won't leave the French economy in peace) is that the portion of the population whom the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, so tactlessly, but in the secret opinion of most Frenchmen so accurately, referred to as the 'racaille' -- scum -- is not very happy with the settlement as it stands. It wants to be left alone to commit crimes uninterrupted by the police, as is its inalienable right.

Unfortunately, to economic division is added ethnic and cultural division: For the fact is that most of Mr. Sarkozy's racaille are of North African or African descent, predominantly Muslim. And the French state has adopted, whether by policy or inadvertence, the South African solution to the problem of social disaffection (in the days of Apartheid): It has concentrated the great majority of the disaffected paupers geographically in townships whose architecture would have pleased that great Francophone (actually Swiss) modernist architect, Le Corbusier, who -- be it remembered -- wanted to raze the whole of Paris and rebuild it along the lines of Clichy-sous-Bois (known now as Clichy-sur-Jungle)."
The article is chock full of insights, presented in a humorous way, so you really should read the rest.

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Shouldn't She Find Someone Her Own Age

Sunday, November 06, 2005

French Riots II

Not surprisingly Jihad Watch has many postings on the still ongoing riots in France. These are mostly excerpts there of news reports with some comments, but well worth reading:

Disabled woman on bus set on fire by rioters
French government wonders why opposing the US didn't buy peace and dreams of a multicultural paradise (that never existed).
Chirac continues to choose appeasement as violence spreads.
Of course this all has nothing to do with the Religion of Peace. No jihad here, move along.
One night total 1300 torched cars and 300 arrests.
Molotov Cocktail factory found in Evry. I've been to Evry.
More shooting at the police.
More empty words from Chirac.

Apparently Sarkozy's hardline has been overruled in favor of continued half-measures, soothing talk ("la langue du bois" = meaningless, political cliches), "dialog," and "stern" warnings that the rule of law will be maintained, even as the rule of law is trampled every night.

This is a clear sign of weakness by the Chirac government, and it is being seen as such by the rioters. Sarkozy was right, but Chirac and de Villepin have made things much worse with their half-steps and interest group politics in response to the initial riots. Promising an "action plan" by the end of the month. PUH--leeeze.

The riots need to be stopped, now. That means a curfew, massive troops, and possibly martial law in the affected towns.

I have seen a few platitudes from the Socialist opposition, but no quotations from the far-right National Front (FN). The FN is probably in the best position to profit from the demonstrated ineptness of Chirac and de Villepin, particularly if Sarkozy is neutered by his "friends" in the process. In the last elections the FN shocked everyone by coming in second in the "first turn" (le premier tour). The Socialists even endorsed Chirac in the second round, as the perceived lesser of evils vs. the FN.

Funny how nightly riots throughout France by disaffected Muslims are a smaller story than South American demonstrators toting pictures of Che and bashing Bush.

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