Wednesday, November 9

So much for "social protection"

'But, What Country Is This?' By Anne Applebaum

"Katrina's devastation points the finger at Bush's system . . . Issues forgotten for years are back to the fore: poverty, the state's absence, latent racism."

-- Le Monde, Sept. 8, 2005

The quotation above appeared in a front-page article in France's newspaper of record. Just below was a cartoon showing the American president watching TV footage of black corpses floating in the water. "But, what country is this?" the caption had him saying to his generals: "Is it far away? We absolutely have to do something!"...["Mais, c'est quel pays? C'est loin? Il faut absolument intervenir!"]

Famously, the late French president Francois Mitterrand once said that the Los Angeles riots could never happen in Paris, because "France is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world."

...the refusal of French politicians to lift restrictions on employers, to promote entrepreneurship or to deregulate make it impossible for young people to integrate through the economy, as immigrants do in this country, despite discrimination. The only real long-term solution -- that France should join the dreaded "Anglo-Saxon" world market and open up its economy -- is precisely the one that no French politician dare speak aloud.

But the insoluble violence in urban France should inspire more than just schadenfreude in this country. Although there isn't yet evidence that this bout of rioting is Islamist in origin, it's pretty clear that large, unintegrated, ungovernable and unemployed Islamic communities in Western Europe will continue to incubate radical Islam...

It is in our own interest, then, to be magnanimous and to come up with ways to assist the French. We could, for example, help them to shatter the myth that they live in an enlightened society, insulated from racial tension, by mass-mailing them copies of Le Monde with the word "America" crossed out in all editorials and the word "France" substituted instead.

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