Le Figaro - Can American Methods End France's Rioting? No

Saturday, November 12, 2005
Watching America has an English translation of La Figaro's article Can American Methods End France's Rioting? No. As the title implies, the question asked is immediately answered, but the article does offer glimpses into a debate which must be occuring in parlours and pubs across France.

America is hardly safe from the sort of crisis currently plaguing France. But while the American social model doesn’t promote equality, it does lead to integration. It has not resolved the problems posed by gangs and ghettos. On the other hand, it has reduced the jobless rate for minorities to well below that of France. The capitalist system also encourages minorities to integrate economically and to end their dependence on state handouts by working. Finally, the federal structure of the United States helps contain potentially volatile situations.

It does start promisingly with the above first paragraph It notes that the US has been more successful in integrating minorities and reducing their unemployment rates. Some statistics illustrating that follow in the article.

During the '80s and '90s, the gradual integration of millions of Asian and Latin American immigrants that came seeking work rather than European-style social protection, was also eased by America's long tradition of immigration.

That might seem to be a compliment, or at least a realization that an overbearing Nanny State may lead to problems, but it is the lead-in to the central theme of the article.

In a capitalist country where private initiative is a source of economic growth, the gratuitous destruction of private property is cracked down upon strongly.

Several paragraphs are spent discussing the primacy of American Capitalists defending property. Not only are the police ruthlessly deployed for this purpose, but armed Korean shopkeepers are mentioned during the LA riots. To be fair, the article does note that ghetto residents -- and presumably Citroen owners -- desire such protection. Also, it notes that American police are far more local than the French Gendarmerie, and that contribured greatly to the community accepting the police.

Indeed, the American justice system is "practical" before being "just." Keeping delinquents for years behind bars is considered useful public policy. The prison system is seen as a means of protecting honest citizens, even though it may deprive young people of their liberty for long periods of time - young people who might instead have been rehabilitated ... The crime rate continues its downward trend in the United States. Conservatives attribute this success to the rising prison population. For every 100,000 American residents, 486 are behind bars. 8.4% of black males between the ages of 25 and 29 are incarcerated, compared to a figure of only 1.2% for white males. Sad statistics indeed - though they fail to keep Americans up at night.

Call me crazy, but I don't think I would be bragging about rehabilitated delinquents as France enters its third week of rioting. As for the notion that a lower crime rate should keep American up at night... well, such a bizarre comment can only reflect style trumping substance. The brutish Americans, with their lower crime rates and better model of integration can't possibly be right -- after all, the French invented equality.


terrye said...

Yeah, it does seem like there might be some youths in France that could stand some time in the slammer does it not?

But since when do we keep locked up forever? I know juveniles who have been picked up, booked and released in less time than it took me to get through security at the airport.

gumshoe1 said...

"The crime rate continues its downward trend in the United States. Conservatives attribute this success to the rising prison population."

no bias there.

yeah sure...i'd like to see more poor angry young men behind bars,
rather than finding avenues to productivity and hope.

BTW,i've read quite a few articles a t NRO,if that can be a gauge of American conservative attitudes.
i can't recall one saying
more young men in prison would improve our society,black,white,

leave it to the French to equate
criminals and self-disciplined,productive,
neighborly citizens.

'Indeed, the American justice system is "practical" before being "just."'

ambi,i agree with your "style vs. substance" comment.

David Thomson said...

Let me say it one more time: France is being destroyed. This once great country is doomed. The situation is hopeless. There are simply too many unassimilated youths. A couple of hundred would pose a serious challenge. Sadly, their numbers are in the thousands, if not even hundreds of thousands. Let’s hope the French who emigrate to the United States are nice neighbors---and don’t join the Democratic Party. They could cause some serious damage.

markg8 said...

The French are so bad at integration that the US model looks good in comparison.

CAUTION off topic, sort of:

I think the disparity between white kids and minority kids incarceration rates in the US stems from a number of factors. A big one is the laws passed in the 90s that make possession of cheap rock cocaine a much more serious offense than possession of more expensive powder cocaine. Of course poorer defendents don't have the wherewithal to hire good lawyers to plead down felony offenses either. Another is poor primary and secondary educational funding based on local property tax values in most areas. Combine that with the export of most of the good paying, no college degree required manufacturing jobs not only out of the cities but out of the country.
Then there's the social factors. If getting a good education isn't encouraged in your neighborhood and household you're not likely to pursue it. And last but not least, it doesn't take genius to see that making $1500 a week dealing crack is more lucrative than $200 a week at McDonald's. A lot of smart ambitious uneducated kids see that as their ticket out of poverty.

Syl said...

But while the American social model doesn’t promote equality...

If France got the fraternity part right, well, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

gumshoe1 said...

"And last but not least, it doesn't take genius to see that making $1500 a week dealing crack is more lucrative than $200 a week at McDonald's. A lot of smart ambitious uneducated kids see that as their ticket out of poverty."

i read your strategy for personal news gathering on another thread,mark.
and i'll grant you that it was fairly effective and wise.
although you appear to inhabit the same universe as my friend who imagines NPR is somehow "objective".
and then i read the quote above.

when i explained that all news outlets have editors and are therefore biased,
he looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights.

no wonder
half the US Congress
could be "fooled" into war.

think an "ambitious ghetto kid"
who chooses crack dealing over
a Mickey D's job is "smart".

i's suggest you sharpen
your ethical model.

a great place to start,
[that you might even enjoy,
as it's very compatible with your
preffered mode of conversation
ie somewhat rational,constant debate]despite your heavily invested ego-attachment:

"What the Buddha Taught"
by Walpola Rahula

is you wanna argue "root causes"
you're gonna have to dig a little deeper that
"it's all society's fault,
and the kids are innocent,
and they can't control their actions..and...and...and...)

it's the best wriiten book i've yet found about the subject,
and in no means talks down to the reader.

best regards.