I was reading the LA Times’
op-ed page today and was (not really) astonished to read the vitriol emanating from the conservative commentators there, crowing about the righteous comeuppance France is undergoing during these dreadful riots. While the critics may have been a little more subtle than that, it was not by much. Even more worryingly, there was no reasonable defense of liberal explanations for the rioting. In fact, to call the explanations liberal or conservative is really unfortunate given the widespread nature of the riots and the fact that poverty and inequity will always
lead to unrest, it is really unconscionable that instead of having someone offer this fairly obvious reading, the Times
runs out two of its conservative jackboot the-darker-skinned-people-in-Paris-are-endangering-our light-skinned-fréres
-coffee-drinking-quiet. In two myopic pieces, the authors claim that the generosity of the supposedly out-of-control French welfare system is to blame for the unrest in France. Basically, the two columnists say, the young men responsible for the rioting are indolent roaches taking inevitable advantage of the generosity of the French welfare system. This of course does not address the inequity, fear, and racism that have combined to limit the choices of some of these young men, to say nothing of the ever-increasing merging of companies whereby jobs are eliminated in the interests of a more efficient business model.
Conservative dope pundit Max Boot, quite unintentionally, opens his editorialwith a quotation that accurately describes the social inequity in the United States.
”Back in 1992, when cars were burning in Los Angeles, not Paris, French President François Mitterand thought he knew why. It was, he explained, because of the ‘absence of social legislation and protection’ in a ‘conservative and economically capitalist’ country.”
“It is precisely because of France’s high level of ‘social protection’ that it is now experiencing its own version of urban hell. The welfare state that is the pride and joy of postwar France has become a ball-and-chain hobbling its ability to keep up economically with the despised Anglo-Saxons. In the United States, the government spends 35.9?% of gross domestic product; in France, it’s 54.5%.”
Generous unemployment benefits, free housing and healthcare and other goodies make life cushy even for those without a job.”
Ah sooooo, we can’t have any of this “generous” financial support to those in society a little less fortunate than everyone else. How then would we lord it over the downtrodden? It’s hard to lord it over people who are not quite as unhappy and unhealthy. Geez, how silly to have thought it.
And also, it would seem that there is too much being spent on social concerns. What we need are more guns. It’s obvious that with our military waging such a deadly, efficient, professional, not too mention successful-war in Iraq…oh wait, it's not successful? Really….hmm…..well, shoot, we still need weapons and arsenals to protect us from a raised terror alert.
Yeah, them Frenchies just have it so easy. Positively cushy eh. Right, so people who are on welfare and have cushy lives just go around rioting? Oh yeah, conjures up the famous Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan inspired riots of ’04. They just couldn’t find the right upholstery for their convertible Benzes and they were very unhappy that they weren’t accorded prime places at the bar the other night also. No wonder they started those brutal Beverly Hills riots. They did get some nice Christian Dior and Versace swag for free….and shoot, they gotta stick it to the man-it’s not like they could have bought that otherwise…wait…they could have? Hmmm…oh details details. Well, if the kids rioting were living comfortable lives, what is an alternative explanation for his explanation for the rioting? It’s just that the Arab kids are prone to it eh? Wait, you say it is the unfortunate social position. OK, we’ll take it then….
Later on in the article Boot claims that in France, people define themselves in religious and cultural terms that may leave young Islamic Frenchmen feeling alienated. Hmmm….alienated young religious and cultural outsiders? That wouldn’t refer to those crazy rap musicians who honkies just don’t understand would it? Oh no, this country is fully integrated and functional. No alienation here, old white people, po’ black folks; everyone gets along just fine here. Hurricane Katrina? Nope, oh, there were plenty of rich white folks hurt by that-why ol’ Trent Lott lost his (second) house. Yeah, it’s just amazing (well, actually not really that amazing I guess given….well, it’s Max Boot) that Boot tries to demonize the French….while he does seem to know, at least a bit, of French-he probably still vacations there-it sucks to be proved wrong by Froggies. Hmm…maybe I’ll get round to countering the other op-ed tomorrow but suffice it to say, it’s really just a bunch more ol’ neo-con junk. Not much there. Really pretty pathetic that there is no point/counterpoint element to the Times comment on the rioting in France. The very fact that wealthy countries attract needy immigrants trying to better their station in life…as in the United States…and of course one of the nation’s biggest newspapers doesn’t even recognize it. And from what I’ve read, the Very Old Grey Lady and the Post don’t take this issue into account either. It hurts to look in the mirror I guess…but for the grace of God…