Having taken in a good deal of the French press this Sunday--I sense that there is a genuine sense of crisis and helplessness and demoralization at the current hour through the French polity. . . . Now, I am not one who believes that some pan-Eurabian intifada is in the offing, or that the implications of these riots rival 9/11, or that Shamil Basayev's guerilla tactics are being adopted off la Place de la Republique--as breathless, under-informed 'commentary' has it in some quarters of the blogosphere. But we certainly have a pivot point here, one where the ruling elite's inefficacy and ineptness is being laid crudely bare for all the world to see. They have been tone-deaf and caught off guard by the depth of the alienation in their midst, and it has now caught them very much unawares and seemingly clueless on how next to respond.
They say Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East. Does that mean Paris is the Beirut of Europe? Or is that an insult to Beirut? . . .
The Lebanese people threw off the yoke of Syrian occupation, oppression, and de facto annexation while committing no violence. The Western model of civil disobedience and protest worked beautifully and, more important, it worked rapidly.
The disgruntled of Paris, on the other hand, are inviting a brutal crackdown from a state infinitely less oppressive that the Syrian Baath regime. While some parts of the Middle East import liberal “Western” political ideas into their culture, some parts of Europe import pathologies from the illiberal places in the Middle East and North Africa. Ah, the ironies of globalization.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A Clockwork Orange reference, plus this observation: "France's entire urban policy has failed, massively failed. The riots are proof. In a world of scooters, cell-phones, and satellite television, no longer can poverty be isolated in high-rise blocks. . . . This is not yet a political or organized assault on French society … but it could rapidly become one."