Sunday, November 13, 2005

New York Times Implicitly Declares French Rioting Over, Sorts Through Winners and Losers

Apparently concluding that the riots have — for practical purposes, and so to speak — burned themselves out, Craig S. Smith, whose reporting in the International section of The New York Times we have followed here over the past two plus weeks, writes an article picking political winners and losers among major French politicians.

A LONGSIDE the urban unrest that has swept France in the last two weeks, another battle has been taking place. It is the political contest over who among France's politicians will gain and who will lose from the rioting. Thus far, one observation seems inescapable: tough talk seems to be working with the public, as opposed to a discussion of the general condition of the alienated children and grandchildren of immigrants, whose frustration has fueled the violence.

Perhaps one should take no joy in his demise, but Chirac appears finished, at least if Mr. Smith is correct; poèt manqué Dominique de Villepin appears wounded; and tough-talking Nicolas Sarkozy, at this point at least, emerges a clear winner.

By the way, one is puzzled, if not amused, at Mr. Smith's characterization of those who torch cars, shoot policeman, terrorize firemen, beat elderly citizens to death and set the handicapped on fire, as the "alienated children and grandchildren of immigrants," as though in their "frustration," fueled by an excessive intake of sweets, they had merely frightened the puppies by climbing up on the table and overturning the cake at a neighborhood birthday party.

But it may be too early to draw conclusions about the outcome of the rioting in France, let alone to name winners and losers. (The latter, it should be noted, is a favorite activity of the mainstream media in general, to say nothing of The New York Times in particular: by late April of 2003 all had concluded we had "lost" in Iraq.) The Australian describes a disturbing new turn in the violence: the appearance for the first time of a hoard of thugs — excuse me, "children and grandchildren" — in a tony section of a major French city, Lyon:

But over the weekend the rioting did not abate. Indeed, for the first time since the violence exploded on October 27 after two teenage boys were electrocuted in Clichy-sous-Bois -- the pair took refuge in a power substation believing they were being chased by police -- the crisis spread to a major city centre.

Rioters struck at the heart of Lyon, considered France's second-most important town, at 5pm on Saturday. About 50 youths descended on Bellecour Square -- the Lyon landmark beloved by locals and tourists -- a few hours before the authorities were due to impose a curfew banning unaccompanied youngsters from the streets of the city after dark.

The brazen attack frightened shoppers and local business people, who quickly closed their enterprises before riot police restored a semblance of order. Two people were arrested and investigations are continuing.

A few dozen cars were torched in central Paris a week earlier, but the menacing presence of a large gang of rioters had not been experienced in a major French urban centre since the civil unrest broke out.

By the way, in today's Craig S. Smith New York Times article, the words "Muslim" and "Islam" make no appearance. Perhaps this is understandable, given that this piece is chiefly concerned with giving an account of "ethnic French," for lack of a better term, winners and losers. But consider this paragraph on Le Pen near the end of Smith's account:

Position on the Unrest Mr. Le Pen has seized on the unrest to support his longstanding contention that the French nation and European culture both are threatened by non-European immigration. His thinly veiled racist attitudes were well expressed in a computer-generated video that his party posted on its Web site last week. The video, with the headline "Immigration explosion in the suburbs; Le Pen foretold it," depicts Paris burning as if after a war. It then shows a red-white-and-blue fireball falling from the sky that eventually cleanses and renews the city, France and finally Europe as the clouds recede toward North Africa.

Now M. Le Pen surely is a racist. And in his racist ranting he must at some point have touched on the issues of Islam and Islamic extremism. Or perhaps not. Maybe it is solely the darker skin and the North African origins of (many of) the rioters that has him riled up. But in any case, since the riots are over, we can now embark on writing their history, secure in our certainty that Islam had nothing to do with "the problem."


Peter UK said...

The Times Online uk takes a different view, A little too close to Chirac for comfort

Peter UK said...

To be sure of the dark skin "racism" charge it would be neccessary to compare the position ofblack African immigrants from France's colonies.
Secondly,many North Africans are no darker skinned than many Mediterranean French.

Rick Ballard said...

Well, it is obvious that LePen is just as responsible for the rioting in France as Bush was for the al Queada attacks on the WTC. And, of course, Sarkozy is a puppet of LePen and an enemy to every French bien pensant.

Now, if the NYT can just adjust the narrative to accomodate some link showing Sarkozy being manipulated by Bush as well as by LePen, life would be perfect on 43rd Ave.


Subscription to the Times should be considered as symtomatic of extreme masochistic tendencies. I hope the DSM-V reflects that fact.

chuck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
terrye said...


I am glad you read the NYT, so I do not have to.

I don't think Le Pen had anything to do with the rioting, any more than Sarkozy did. But the truth is if society does not deal with these problems than some demagogue will take advantage.

I should point out that I do not think Sarkozy is like Le Pen. From what I understand Sarkozy's parents were immigrants themselves.

Once again we can not speak of the obvious, two racist cultures collide.

Kenneth said...

Although the usual people of (real or imagined) power keep having their usual discussions in the usual spotlights, in the end the citizens of France (and the United States, and Great Britian, and Jordan, and etc.) will solve this problem. We will either allow berserker thugs to destroy our lives, or we will eliminate them. Further discussion is nothing but a party in the slaughter house.

terrye said...


But we have the right to bear arms.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Personally, I'm sick of the "racism" canard. I don't know where all the rioters are from or what color their skins are. But clearly there are two very disparate groups, racially, involved. Mediterranean-looking Arabs on the one hand, who don't look any different from a lot of Frenchmen, and sub-Saharan blacks on the other. How many of these are Muslims, how many are black--I don't know any of this because the news media has kept a wet blanket over the actual facts. Can't rile me up you know.

By continually referring to the groups as "African" so as to conflate two entirely different groups with (possibly) two entirely different aims, pundits are deliberately obfuscating the situation so as to force it into their preferred narrative.

Nor do I buy the "obviously le Pen is a racist" idea. How do you know? I don't know whether he is or isn't. I haven't seen anything about le Pen that brands him as racist per se. Maybe he is, but I'm not assuming it until it's proven. Everything I have seen about him says that he is pro-French and anti-everybody else. He hates Jews and Muslims and Americans. That's not racism. Le Pen is tribal, favoring the French tribe. The Left likes to believe that everybody who does not adhere to their own universalist religion is "racist". That's because "racist" in the post-WWII, post-Nazi tradition is the very worst thing a human being can be.

Caroline said...

Let's assume Le pen IS a racist. If one follows the logic of post-modernism (which originates in France and forms the intellectual background for much of what we see unfolding there)- which leads to multi-culturalism, then it's all relative anyway. There is no objective moral reality. There's only identity politics and "narratives". And in the end, among all these competing identity politics and narratives, well, Might makes right. So Le Pen simply represents one more narrative - that of the native French. What does "racism" have to do with it? The islamists are racist as hell too (okay, infidels aren't exactly a "race" but then neither do Muslims constitute a race).

It's all relative. Noone has the ultimate claim on Truth. So pick your team on the basis of whatever subjective criteria you choose. I choose Le Pen - just because, well, because I feel like it. He just happens to be closer to MY tribe. That's good enough in today's moral postmodern climate.

gumshoe said...

this should tell you something about the current quality of the reporting and editing at the NYT:

NYT>Sunday,13Nov2005>Week in Review>
"In Jordan,Methodical Madness" by James Glanz>
Captain Obvious Pull Quote(in BOLD):

"Suspicion grows that Al Qaeda anarchy is a tool
that serves its ambitions".

from the Rip van Winkle School of Journalism ,i suppose.

gumshoe said...


"Suspicion grows that for Al Qaeda anarchy is a tool
that serves its ambitions".

gumshoe said...

"Once again we can not speak of the obvious, two racist cultures collide."

hyperbole accounted for...i believe you've captured it,terrye.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


While I agree completely with the logic of what you say, postmodernism is not about being logical. Like all clever tools of political propaganda, there's a sharp distinction between what they say and what they mean. What they say is that all thoughts are equal. What they mean is that their thoughts are more equal than yours.

It's a classic wink-wink nudge-nudge situation, like Kerry pretending he to run for a "stronger" America, where by "stronger" of course was meant "weaker", or Hillary claiming she's a "person of faith", where by "person of faith" is meant an atheist who wants to increase the power of Caesar at the cost of the power of the Church.

Caroline said...

Meaninglesshotair -

Actually, I think we understand eachother perfectly. What I am saying is that obviously TWO can play this game. Once one is freed from the contraints of logic, then who can decide between the Islamists and Le Pen? We might as well choose our own tribe in this battle, n'est ce pas? Isn't that where postmodernism leads us? The only way that couldn't be where it leads us, is if it never occurred to its proponents that there might eventually be a white,western (even Christian) ethnic group - with it's own unique narrative - under attack, as there is in France now.

The point is - now that's it's all about identity politics, every tribe has a legitimate claim to truth. Hell - we're all victims now. So pick your tribe. Morally, I might as well pick Le Pen. He's simply closer to my tribe. So why not?

Anonymous said...

A French friend(she lives here and is a citizen but is in contact with friends and family there) says it is widely believed in France that that little "health incident" of Chirac's was more significant and that it was apparently a stroke and he is not functioning well since then..Indeed, they think he is quite "ga ga".


MeaninglessHotAir said...


Ok. Check.

And while we're agreeing, allow me state that I agree with this quote of yours re Hersh:

Roger Simon: "No, I think in comments like this he is trying to relive his glory days of the secret bombing of Cambodia when he, Seymour, was a hero.
I can sympathize. This is a temptation we all have"

It may be a temptation that many people have but it deserves no sympathy whatsoever. It ought to be roundly condemned. The stakes for the west as a whole are simply too high to pander to the ego needs of baby-boomer has-beens.

Bravo! Well said.

gumshoe said...

Caroline & MHA -

i've read terrific reviews
of a book by author Stephen Hicks
called "Explaining Postmodernism:

i've sent YARGBie truepeers
a link to one review about it,
hoping he might find time to start up a thread about it here on the blog.

a link to the book...:

"Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault" by Stephen R. C. Hicks (Paperback - August 2004)

to the review mentioned above...:

(book review & commentary)
from the blog
One Cosmos(and the Bo Diddley Beat)

"From the Lofty Kant to Lefty Cant"

and a few choice quotes:

"Ever wonder why leftists are so irrational and unreasonable? According to Hicks, postmodernism is “the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason.” This is why leftists routinely resort to ad hominem attacks, extreme hostility to dissent, speech codes, and authoritarian political correctness. "

"...this also explains the common observation that the left is devoid of constructive ideas, for without logic and evidence, leftism has been reduced to a knee-jerk critique of Western civilization.
It is essentially irrational and nihilistic, because language is not about reality, but simply about more language."

*More Language*?

gotta luv it.

gumshoe said...

"...for without logic and evidence, leftism has been reduced to a knee-jerk critique of Western civilization."

to add a bit to that...
the memory-hole becomes
shallower and shallower
with the rejection of the
dreaded "history" in favor of the
newly sanctified "narratives"...

the yield is the the self-induced idiocy and power-grabbing of the recent "Lied into War" meme...
despite stacks of evidence to refute it.