Friday, November 04, 2005

Paris Is Burning

Are the riots in France a result of failed government policies? Are they caused by the discrimination that non-native French face? Is the refusal of immigrants to assimilate into French society responsible?

Whatever the cause, the children of immigrants have an identity crisis. They were born in France, but they do not see themselves as French. They are outsiders in the country of their birth; alienation sets in. This situation leaves these people open to the influence of Islamists, which leads to further isolation from French society, and increases the likelihood of conflict.

Whatever the cause(s), violence cannot be tolerated. The police cannot be afraid to enforce the law in certain neighborhoods (in Paris, in Brussels, in Malmo). The welfare state is a failure; appeasement does not bring peace.

Some will place all the blame on the French government, and some will place all the blame on the Muslims. The truth is somewhere in between. The French have a reputation of being culturally chauvinistic. Islam is seen by many as a chauvinistic religion. French secularism collides with Islamic fundamentalism.

I don't claim to have the answer, but it will have to include economic reform, the rule of law, and Muslim integration into French society. I hope the French government comes up with a viable plan that offers long-term solutions. The wrong moves will result in more violence now, or short-term relief that will allow deepening alienation and cultural separation that can only lead to a larger explosion down the road.