Captain Ed Weighs In On M Word

Wednesday, November 09, 2005
For the past several days, I have been calling attention to the media's curious hesitation to use the words "Islam" and "Muslim" when reporting on the rioting in France. In a piece in The Weekly Standard, Fulluja-Sur-Seine?, Ed Morrissey nicely summarizes the story of how and why the media may have missed the story:

WHEN THE MEDIA began covering the spreading violence in France, it appeared to go out of its way to avoid the notion that Islam had anything to do with the riots or their organizers. After all, even the French viewed the first couple of nights of unrest with a jaundiced eye. A nation that experiences nationwide protests every decade over some real or perceived injustice doesn't react quickly to a few burning cars in the Parisian suburbs. France averaged 80 cars a day lost to arson this year even before the riots began, and they assumed the riots meant little.

After a few straight days of increasing violence, however, the only people still believing that comforting line appeared to be members of the French government and the media, who insisted on doing everything they could to miss the story. Twelve days into the riots, even after they had spread across France and inspired violence in Germany and Belgium, the media for the most part still could not bring itself to mention the "M" or "I" words: Muslim and Islamist. The lack of even any suggestion that radical Islamists might have initiated the violence, or at least be taking advantage of it, boggles the imagination.

After calling attention, as I have, to The New York Times' strange aversion to using the M word, and to that same hesitation on the part of the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, Captain Ed points out how the WaPo's reluctance is particularly ironic given that three weeks before the start of the rioting

...the Post warned its readers... that Islamist groups had targeted France for the next stage of their war.

In September, the Algerian Islamist terror group GSPC issued a communiqué describing France as "enemy number one" and called for Muslims to conduct attacks on France. Agence France Presse reported this threat without great fanfare, but the French authorities took it seriously enough to round up over a dozen suspected terrorist cell members throughout the country. The Post took a different look at the Algerian threat, noting that the training for terrorists had focused on younger French citizens, with a greater ability to move unrestricted through the streets of Paris and other target-rich environments. Among the training areas that intrigued the Post was the urban-warfare areas of Iraq...


As Glenn Reynolds says, read the whole thing.


19 comments:

David Thomson said...

“The lack of even any suggestion that radical Islamists might have initiated the violence, or at least be taking advantage of it, boggles the imagination.”

Logical arguments are unlikely to sway the committed leftist. They have a deeply held faith in secular liberalism similar to the most fervent religious believer. It is deemed heretical to question the received truths of the liberal zeitgeist. An existential dark night of the soul is a heavy price to pay. And this is why these people are so dangerous to themselves and the rest of us! They will continue to run from reality. Nothing significant is going to change in the near future.

There is no hope for France. The Trojan horse of Islamic nihilism is already in the door. The hell with the French. They have done everything possible to stab us in the back. Many of them will soon emigrate to the United States. I hope they will prove to be good neighbors.

ambisinistral said...

The narrative that drug dealers have spread carefully calibrated riots through out the entirety of France, and now across the borders into Belgium, Germany and Portugal, seems more than a little far-fetched to me.

The French government's hesitation to mention the Moslem dimension of these riots is understandable as an effort to keep the situation from getting more inflamed. However, the complete failure of the press, particularily the media outside of France, to bring that point up for consideration cannot be excused.

I believe the idea of an undigestible culture is a profound shock to the multiculturalists. A single aggressive culure that will not compromise brings down their house of cards. They are facing that possibility, and hoping they can will what they fear away.

Syl said...

ambi

I believe the idea of an undigestible culture is a profound shock to the multiculturalists. A single aggressive culure that will not compromise brings down their house of cards.

In a nutshell. Well said. It doesn't even take Islamic extremists in their midst to cause this. In fact, if it was, indeed, totally spontaneous and not due to extremists egging them on, the point is even more powerful.

And I, for one, don't think any Islamists were behind this at all.

Jamie Irons said...

syl,

You wrote:

And I, for one, don't think any Islamists were behind this at all...

I am agnostic on the question of whether Islamists were involved in any way, at least in any major way.

In previous posts I have argued for labeling the rioters and whatever supporters they may have barbarians.

I am quite serious in making this suggestion. "Barbarians" has the advantages of being accurate, inclusive, and inoffensive to any aggrieved ethnic or religious group. There can be all kinds of barbarians. If it turns out they are Islamist as well, then the discussion can be further focused.

I too like ambi's notion of the "indigestible" culture. (Of course, any culture so labeled will take offense at that term, and a horde of grievance mongers will descend on anyone using that label!)

Jamie Irons said...

A clarification:

When I say "I am agnostic on the question of whether Islamists were involved in any way, at least in any major way," I mean I leave the question open. I lean a bit toward the Islamists being involved, and Islam itself being a large part of the "background" of this problem, because I believe the mainstream media's reluctance to use the words "Islam" and "Muslim" in their accounts of what is happening in France amount to what the con man calls a "tell," that is, an indication of what they really think.

David Thomson said...

“There can be all kinds of barbarians. If it turns out they are Islamist as well, then the discussion can be further focused.”

It is almost pointless to debate this matter. The main thing is that France is being destroyed. On a practical level, why does it matter? For whatever reason, an incredibly large number of immigrants are not assimilated. They have no realistic job prospects. Perhaps most importantly, these thugs have achieved a sort of autonomous governance over their immediate surroundings. The French government is virtually unable to do anything to stop them. France’s economic winners will be leaving the country in droves. The situation in their homeland is hopeless.

Jamie Irons said...

David,

I think the who (or who's) of who is behind the violence matters in the sense that understanding the problem may help us to avert its outbreak elsewhere.

Jamie

chuck said...

Jaime,

islam itself being a large part of the "background" of this problem,

Someone posting elsewhere related that for one thing, Islam forbid interest bearing loans. The (second hand) source employed two men of north african descent who still lived in government housing because they would not take out loans to buy private homes.

I think the French media, government, and intelligentsia also has an "Islamist" slant on events in Israel and Iraq. This is part of the Islamist background and probably still the main source.

David,

France is being destroyed

I don't think this is anywhere near true. I don't even think there are that many rioters. Else the destruction would be far more severe.

Syl said...

Jamie

I lean a bit toward the Islamists being involved, and Islam itself being a large part of the "background" of this problem

What ambi (I think) and I are saying is that one can have the second, without necessarily the first. Islam's values, beliefs, and precepts are a part of the culture and in and of themselves demonstrate an intolerance of the 'other' and a desire to remain separate. This does not necessarily mean the culture itself advocates violence but that it rejects the values of the 'host'. And that this rejection probably would not have happened if this culture had been more integrated instead of having been kept separate by multiculturalism.

Peter UK said...

I hate to say this but I have been banging on about it for a week,splashing posts alover the place with the message that PARIS, Sept 27 (AFP) - An Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) had threatened strikes on France.
France fought a vicious and bloody war in Algeria which in many ways was also a civil war in France.
Terrorist activity has been ongoing in Algeria,there is a lot of expertise.
So it is an important aspect to take into consideration when looking for root causes,especially in the light of the amazing control that appears to be displayed by the ruoters.I say appears,because the French media is virtually state controlled,the golvernment might just be keeping a lid on adverse news.

David Thomson said...

“I think the who (or who's) of who is behind the violence matters in the sense that understanding the problem may help us to avert its outbreak elsewhere.”

Yes indeed, the debate is most useful “to avert its outbreak elsewhere.” I don’t disagree. My point is that it’s a moot question regarding the rioting in France. This is the debate they should have had at least two decades ago! It’s too late for the French. Their situation is hopeless.

“France is being destroyed

I don't think this is anywhere near true. I don't even think there are that many rioters. Else the destruction would be far more severe.”

Think of me as the antithesis to Clive Davis. The rioters number in the thousands. They have no realistic future prospects. These unassimilated youths are doomed to continue collecting their welfare benefits and feeling sorry for themselves. Suicide bombing and other terrorist attacks will surely follow. It’s only going to get worse. Why should an economic winner remain in the country?

Knucklehead said...

I've made my quick webrounds looking to see what the situation is today. Pretty light fare as far as actual news gos. More analyis than news.

The Australian tells us things are quieter but hardly quiet: Curfew fails to prevent riots sweeping France.

BusinessWeek Online tells us Riots in France rattle the euro.

The Korea Times weighs in with A Rude Awakening For European Immigration Policy.

Atlas Shrugs quotes the Egyptian daily, Al-Massaie, telling us Rioters ignored the extraordinary security measures, which began Wednesday, as they looted and burned two superstores, set fire to a newspaper office and paralyzed France's second largest city's subway system with a gasoline bomb.

USAToday has In French riots, a lesson for Europe that seems to me among the fattest wad of twaddle I've read yet, but YMMV.

Steven den Beste (can't find the link anymore but I'm pretty sure it was at RealClearPolitics) thinks the arrests the French authorities are making by the hundreds each night are beginning to win a war of attrition - at least temporarily.

chuck said...

Knuck,

I believe it rained last night. If the weather improves the yute might be more enthusiastic.

truepeers said...

Jamie, yes, sure they are barbarians. But let's not forget that even barbarian armies don't march on their stomachs alone. There has to be some justificaiton for these punks acting out their resentment. And from what I've seen of interviews, they do have talking points ready - usually that no one will hire us, racism, and we have no hope. Since there's no doubt a fair amount of truth in this, be sure that sooner or later they will be looking for deeper, more conspiratorial, "root" causes.

The thing about the Islamism debate is that we need to recognize that you don't need much of the poison to ruin your life, especially when you're young. Of course most of these kids are not serious Islamists, but that's not to say Islamism isn't key to what has sparked the riots.

The sophistication of one's resentment is not a guide to its immediate virulence. The more seriously we take our resentment, the less violent we will be, for a time - think the Marxist revolutionary who spends a lot of time talking up a storm in the cafes before he finally, if ever, finds the guts and opportunity for full-fledged revolt.

A full-fledged Islamism will be in some ways more disciplined and focussed than a bunch of kids who have only a passing knowledge of the idea. The serious Islamist may join a terrorist cell and plot long-term. A bunch of rioting kids are more likely to have but a thin veneer of ideology to justify their yet largely inarticulate resentment. Resentment begins in delusion; it is not rational and need not be highly rationalized to first let go.

truepeers said...

"resentment begins in delusion"

-no, I didn't word that right. Resentment most always has a component of both truth and delusion. One cannot reflect seriously on resentment when one is feeling resentful; one has to snap out of it first (which makes it different from other feelings, like pity or love), and learn to analyze the human condition calmly. It's because resentment blocks reflection and because it is thus not clear to us how it came into our world - and so we mentally overvalue our vision of the true injustice, the "true root cause" of our resentment - that it comes packed with delusion.

truepeers said...

See the latest post at
Roger l Simon's

Knucklehead said...

I am not familiar with Tony Blankley's work but he makes what seem to me very valid points in his article, Islamist Threat in France at RealClearPolitics commentary.

It is commentary worth reading but the essential point I take away is this:

Even when the current violence subsides -- even when the French government attempts to placate their radical Muslim population by offering more welfare benefits and programs -- it will not be the end of the story. A new benchmark of the possible will have been established.

Peter UK said...

Truepeers,
Sadly,many of the denzins of our city slums live a feral existance,I am not sure reflection is part of this.Life is more on the level of instant gratification,the here and now,rather than the future,Many of them cannot conceive tomorrow or an aging process,most don't think they will get old.Many don't.

The emotions and momentary passions rule,it is for this reason I find the forebearance of the rioters preternatural.There is no compunction,in the daily run of things, about rapine and pillage,mayhem and murder.
Either soemthing is holding them back from normal behavioural patterns or the information is not reaching the press.

Peter UK said...

France 3 has stopped reporting car burning