Ed Driscoll

The Barbarians At The Gates--Of Paris

Mark Steyn looks at the Paris riots:

Battles are very straightforward: Side A wins, Side B loses. But the French government is way beyond anything so clarifying. Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman. They’re in Brussels, where Belgian police officers are advised not to be seen drinking coffee in public during Ramadan, and in Malmo, where Swedish ambulance drivers will not go without police escort. It’s way too late to rerun the Battle of Poitiers. In the no-go suburbs, even before these current riots, 9,000 police cars had been stoned by ”French youths” since the beginning of the year; some three dozen cars are set alight even on a quiet night. ”There’s a civil war under way in Clichy-sous-Bois at the moment,” said Michel Thooris of the gendarmes’ trade union Action Police CFTC. ”We can no longer withstand this situation on our own. My colleagues neither have the equipment nor the practical or theoretical training for street fighting.”

What to do? In Paris, while ”youths” fired on the gendarmerie, burned down a gym and disrupted commuter trains, the French Cabinet split in two, as the ”minister for social cohesion” (a Cabinet position I hope America never requires) and other colleagues distance themselves from the interior minister, the tough-talking Nicolas Sarkozy who dismissed the rioters as ”scum.” President Chirac seems to have come down on the side of those who feel the scum’s grievances need to be addressed. He called for ”a spirit of dialogue and respect.” As is the way with the political class, they seem to see the riots as an excellent opportunity to scuttle Sarkozy’s presidential ambitions rather than as a call to save the Republic.

A few years back I was criticized for a throwaway observation to the effect that ”I find it easier to be optimistic about the futures of Iraq and Pakistan than, say, Holland or Denmark.” But this is why. In defiance of traditional immigration patterns, these young men are less assimilated than their grandparents. French cynics like the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, have spent the last two years scoffing at the Bush Doctrine: Why, everyone knows Islam and democracy are incompatible. If so, that’s less a problem for Iraq or Afghanistan than for France and Belgium.

If Chirac isn’t exactly Charles Martel, the rioters aren’t doing a bad impression of the Muslim armies of 13 centuries ago: They’re seizing their opportunities, testing their foe, probing his weak spots. If burning the ‘burbs gets you more ”respect” from Chirac, they’ll burn ’em again, and again. In the current issue of City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple concludes a piece on British suicide bombers with this grim summation of the new Europe: ”The sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict.” Which sounds an awful lot like a new Dark Ages.

On the bright side, that prospect ought to make these folks happy, at least.

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds wonders why other European nations haven’t sent troops to support the French. “It’s supposed to be the European Union, right?”, the Blogfather asks.

Maybe they want to make sure that Cindy Sheehan approves first…