Rah-Rah For Rioters
The darling buds of France—her raging Muslim youths—conjure a skit from the "Life of Brian," John Cleese's parody of Judea under Rome. Reg and his band of anti-Roman rebels are debating the merits and demerits of the enemy. A Jew doesn't embark on a project without a good dialectical session. So, "What have the Romans ever done for us?" asks Reg. "The aqueduct," one rebel ventures. A second says, "Sanitation, remember what the city used to be like?" A third praises the roads. A fourth, the public baths. Exacerbated by the growing list of Roman improvements, rebel-in-chief Reg responds: "All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"
What have the French ever done for "les beurs," now rioting in 300 French cities and towns, having destroyed more than 6,000 cars, burned busses, businesses, shops, schools, police stations, libraries; beaten bystanders, and snuffed out at least one life?
They've replaced the mud huts of their ancestors with subsidized housing and modern plumbing, given them schools, job-training institutes, cradle-to-crypt welfare, and, my personal favorite, the Musée du Louvre.
To listen to their enablers among the media, however, not much. Whether the mediacrats are applying their cerebral sinew to individual or group-orchestrated crime; to psychological or sociological "causal factors," bad deeds are invariably caused—never committed. And they are caused by factors outside the perpetrators.
When it comes to thinking about crime, Left and Right converge. There's no real disagreement between Fox News's Sean Hannity and his sidekick, Alan Colmes, or Bill O'Reilly, and CNN's bloodless albino, Anderson Cooper, as to what drives a school teacher to seduce her young charge. The narcissism that oozes from semi-pornographic fashion photos, the manipulative phone calls, the brazen lack of contrition—the evidence points to only one conclusion. Teach is a victim; she knew not what she was doing. She needs treatment.
The feminization of news compounds matters. Coverage is now driven by hormones (CNN's Anderson Cooper is awash with estrogen). All the cable coquettes—at Fox, MSNBC, and CNN—warmed to the barbarians of the banlieusard, just as their goodwill runs eternal for other "victims" of circumstance and biorhythm (kid killer Andrea Yates is their favorite comeback kid).
In the "progressive's" universe, evil actions don't incriminate, they mitigate. Rather than signify a lack of moral fiber, the criminality of France's rambunctious rioters is said to be a symptom of inadequate freebies and fraternité.
Staying on message, CNN used the passive voice to catalogue the rioters' crimes: "Violence hit nearly 300 towns," "areas were hit by rioting," (yells of "Allahu-Akhbar" were heard…etc.). One of their intrepid reporters got down with the street warriors. "We want a youth center," they told him. "We want you to talk to us, give us jobs, and don't always check on us" (such harassment is so obviously redundant).
Princeton psychologist Susan Fiske was then dragged in to discuss "The Rioter" as a phenomenon. The guru confirmed that vandalism and violence are symptoms of anger, and anger is a reaction to a perceived harm, both intentional and unjust. This is no mob, groused Fiske, but a group of individuals, like you and me, desperately seeking group identity, while taking their cues from the straight-shooting role models around them. All very rational, even honorable. Reporter Randi Kaye's responsorial: an overdub about years of resentment, discrimination, and exploitation. She supplied no concrete examples.
Shame on her. French Muslims endure untold oppression. France's holidays are largely saints' days. School cafeterias serve fish on Fridays. Restaurants still serve wine and pork, and souvenir shops peddle porcelain pigs. As the Times Literary Supplement recently complained, "Nuns do not have to remove their headscarves for passport or driver's license photographs; Muslim women do." Oh the indignities! My favorite newsman (and co-religionist) Jon Stewart, added his invaluable perspective as an "alienated" minority: "Do you know what it's like to be sent to a Christian school every Passover with a hardboiled egg?" (Italians would have similar stories of "survival.")
On the other hand, Randi's colleague, Christiane Amanpour, came up with one example of "discrimination." A doff of the beret to the French: they don't have affirmative action (or institutionalized multiculturalism). The inability to compel French employers to employ Ahmad before Armand has, apparently, fomented the unrest. However, unregulated, employers tend to do what's best for business. According to Mark Steyn, "9,000 police cars have been stoned by 'French youths' since the beginning of the year; some three dozen cars are set alight even on a quiet night." Perhaps employers are afraid. Some might have presciently worried that if they hired Muhammad, he might one day sue or take a bat to the building if a place to pray is not provided or if he isn't given time off on Fridays. That sort of thing.
It's not bias; it's business.
Racial or ethnic antipathy is as inadequate an explanation of the economic plight of blacks in America as it is of Muslims in France. Malaysians mounted regular pogroms against their Chinese population, whose starting status as persecuted, indentured laborers didn't prevent them from rising to dominate business, the professions and the academy. Despite the incinerating antipathy toward Jews in Nazi Germany—antipathy far in excess of the alleged racism Muslims suffer—Jews were "overrepresented" in the economic, academic, and cultural life of Germany. And they remained active in German society until the state stepped in and stripped them of their rights. While considerations as to what will maximize profit do occasionally cross a proprietor's mind, you can be sure they don't cause him to reject the best-qualified applicant. That would be too costly.
Randi rounded up her reportage with an ode to a "rioter's passion": "For centuries rioters have raised their voices and fists. The media will continue to capture their anger. In the end, what will be accomplished—more violence, and in Paris, death," she intoned.
Besides being ungrammatical, Randi's coda is puzzling. Was she referring to what her network termed the "first death of the riots"? Buried in one of CNN's meditations on the glory of Molotov-lobbing yobs was something about a Parisian dying of "injuries suffered outside his apartment building." Stuff happens, you know.
Randi, bless her soul, didn't elaborate on the indelicate death of Jean Jacques Le Chenadec. Mr. Chenadec was a native Frenchman of the "lower middle-class." He retired from Renault in 2001. He enjoyed discussing cars with a neighbor, who was beaten within an inch of his life. Mr. Chenadec wasn't so lucky. He was pounded to a pulpy death by "scum," which is how Interior Minister "Super Sarko" identified the killers.
©By ILANA MERCER
November 11, 2005