Wednesday, November 09, 2005

French riots

I haven't posted anything about the riots, mainly because I don't know that much about comtemporary French society. Thus other than cringing at the seemingly ubiquitous "Well, of course, cuz ya know, them damn Muslims are causing trouble everywhere" or "Wow, 2 French groups fighting each other? Well why haven't they both surrendered yet?" type of rubbish, I don't really have much to offer to the conversation.

I did, however, run across a very good post here by Juan Cole (professor of history at UMichigan). It's a little oblique in that it really discusses popular American perceptions of what's going on, but there's some great insight in it about French society (in all its colors and manifestations) that are helpful in getting a handle on what the hell is going on over there. There are some arguments in it that I suspect of being straw men (I myself have never heard anyone say that the riots are the current manifestation of the 1300 year old struggle between French Christians and Arab Muslims), and other parts where it labels ideas as "right wing" that I think are more broadly American, but other than that, he has some sound arguments. It's brief and worth a read.


TioChuy said...

Yeah I think this article goes a little beyond the root of the problem. I think it would take some time living in Europe (which I haven't) to really understand. France is in what, the 7th Republic since Napoleon? I saw a news show on "inner-city" France about a year ago and mostly all these "ethnic" groups seemed to be being treated not unlike "ethnic" groups here pre-civil rights movement. Everywhere the camera's went looked like footage from the Bronx( All joking about "French Wussies" aside it is rather ironic that the US is always chided about human rights and Europe at times seems to be light years behind us.

El Ranchero said...

France is on the 5th repub right now. If that's relevant, then it is because the French have a long history of rioting in the streets. I've had history professors claim it's French favorite hobby. But I don't much stock in that kinda thought anymore.
My understanding of the French problem is that right now they're trying for the "colorblind" society thing, which is kind of a chimera because all it really engenders is a government that turns a blind eye on discrimination. I did like the article for debunking the religious ties to the riots. I didn't know that.