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Insurrection addendum.

Nov
6
2005

The following was written to a correspondent who wrote in response to this post.

I agree that communal segregation is probably the primary cause of the riots in France. That being said, I don’t think the segregation is wholly the fault of non-Muslim France — there’s enough evidence to indicate that it’s self-imposed to a significant extent. And the Islamist “ringleaders” that many of the French authorities refer to, being politically aware by definition, are quite likely to be themselves influenced by their perceptions of France’s Iraq stance.

Interestingly, the difference between a place like France and a place like Germany is that the former has historically granted citizenship to its minorities, viewing its nationhood (at least in theory) as an ideological rather than an ethnic concept. Germany, by contrast, has more or less refused to grant citizenship to its minorities and immigrants — and their descendants. One would think, therefore, that German minority communities would be more apt to riot than French. I don’t have an answer as to why this isn’t so, but it’s interesting to ponder.

Returning to the idea of a self-imposed segregation, this apparently becomes the more pronounced in direct proportion to self-identification as Muslim. We see it in America, too. Witness, for example, the alienation of many American Muslims immediately after 9/11; or the Muslim-American grieving for Sheikh Yassin. The antidote is, as you note, openness on the part of the host culture to integration — but that only goes so far. Both parties must move — and one assumes that it is the guest that must move the further, toward the host.

I suspect that the long-term solution for France is the aggressive promotion of the French ideological identity, which must come at the expense of the communal identities of the minorities. The short-term solution is the suppression of the riots by any means necessary. But with the leadership playing its political games, and its concurrent disassociation from the idea of the West (which is, despite themselves, a sine qua non of French values), my confidence is low.

Share  Posted by Josh Trevino at 11:28 AM | Permalink

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