[Paleopsych] Muslim riots in France

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Sun Nov 13 01:20:05 UTC 2005


  -----Original Message-----
  From: paleopsych-bounces at paleopsych.org
[mailto:paleopsych-bounces at paleopsych.org]On Behalf Of Gerry Reinhart-Waller
  Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2005 4:16 PM
  To: The new improved paleopsych list
  Subject: Re: [Paleopsych] Muslim riots in France

  I've been looking for thepoliticalspinroom but all I could find was:
  (the politicalspinroom2).

  Please advise.

  Gerry Reinhart-Waller

  Steve Hovland wrote:
    I think it's a good summary of the right-wing view,
    but this is not the place to have a serious argument
    about it.

    If anyone is hankering for a knock-down
    drag-out approach to political debate they are
    welcome to join us in thepoliticalspinroom on
    yahoo groups.

    Not a tea party, bit it is definitely one place
    where the interface between left and right is
    hyperactive.  I go there to sharpen my teeth :-)

    Steve HOvland
      -----Original Message-----
      From: paleopsych-bounces at paleopsych.org
[mailto:paleopsych-bounces at paleopsych.org]On Behalf Of Lynn D. Johnson,
      Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2005 10:56 AM
      To: The new improved paleopsych list
      Subject: [Paleopsych] Muslim riots in France

      [an interesting and likely correct view of the riots from the Wall
Street Journal]

      French Lessons
      How to create a Muslim underclass.

      Friday, November 11, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST
      Rioting by Muslim youth in some 300 French cities and towns seems to
be subsiding after two weeks and tougher law enforcement, which is certainly
welcome news. The riots have shaken France, however, and the unrest was of
such magnitude that it has become a moment of illumination, for French and
Americans equally.

      In particular, some longstanding conceits about the superiority of the
French social model have gone up in flames. This model emphasizes
"solidarity" through high taxes, cossetted labor markets, subsidies to
industry and farming, a "Ministry for Social Cohesion," powerful
public-sector unions, an elaborate welfare state, and, inevitably,
comparisons to the alleged viciousness of the Anglo-Saxon "market" model. So
by all means, let's do some comparing.

      The first thing that needs illuminating is that, while the
overwhelming majority of rioters are Muslim, it is premature at best to
describe the rioting as an "intifada" or some other term denoting
religiously or culturally inspired violence. And it is flat-out wrong to
claim that the rioting is a consequence of liberal immigration policies.
      Consider the contrast with the U.S. Between 1978 and 2002, the
percentage of foreign-born Americans nearly doubled, to 12% from 6.2%. At
the same time, the five-year average unemployment rate declined to 5.1% from
7.3%. Among immigrants, median family incomes rose by roughly $10,000 for
every 10 years they remained in the country.

      These statistics hold across immigrant groups, including ones that
U.S. nativist groups claim are "unassimilable." Take Muslims, some two
million of whom live in America. According to a 2004 survey by Zogby
International, two-thirds are immigrants, 59% have a college education and
the overwhelming majority are middle-class, with one in three having annual
incomes of more than $75,000. Their intermarriage rate is 21%, nearly
identical to that of other religious groups.

      It's true that France's Muslim population--some five million out of a
total of 60 million--is much larger than America's. They also generally
arrived in France much poorer. But the significant difference between U.S.
and French Muslims is that the former inhabit a country of economic
opportunity and social mobility, which generally has led to their successful
assimilation into the mainstream of American life. This has been the case
despite the best efforts of multiculturalists on the right and left to extol
fixed racial, ethnic and religious identities at the expense of the
traditionally adaptive, supple American one.

      In France, the opposite applies. Mass Muslim migration to France began
in the 1960s, a period of very low unemployment and industrial labor
shortages. Today, French unemployment is close to 10%, or double the U.S.
rate. Unlike in the U.S., French culture eschews multiculturalism and puts a
heavy premium on the concept of "Frenchness." Yet that hasn't provided much
cushion for increasingly impoverished and thus estranged Muslim communities,
which tend to be segregated into isolated and generally unpoliced suburban
cities called banlieues. There, youth unemployment runs to 40%, and crime,
drug addiction and hooliganism are endemic.

      This is not to say that Muslim cultural practices are irrelevant. For
Muslim women especially, the misery of the banlieues is compounded by a
culture of female submission, often violently enforced. Nor should anyone
rule out the possibility that Islamic radicals will exploit the mayhem for
their own ends. But whatever else might be said about the Muslim attributes
of the French rioters, the fact is that the pathologies of the banlieues are
similar to those of inner cities everywhere. What France suffers from,
fundamentally, is neither a "Muslim problem" nor an "immigration problem."
It is an underclass problem.

      French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin almost put his finger on
the problem when he promised to introduce legislation to ease the economic
plight of the banlieues. But aside from the useful suggestion of "enterprise
zones," most of the legislation smacked of big-government solutions:
community centers, training programs and so on.

      The larger problem for the prime minister is that France's underclass
is a consequence of the structure of the French economy, in which the state
accounts for nearly half of gross domestic product and roughly a quarter of
employment. French workers, both in the public and private sectors, enjoy
GM-like benefits in pensions, early retirement, working hours and vacations,
sick- and maternity leave, and job security--all of which is militantly
enforced by strike-happy labor unions. The predictable result is that there
is little job turnover and little net new job creation. Leave aside the
debilitating effects of unemployment insurance and welfare on the
underclass: Who would employ them if they actually sought work?

      For France, the good news is that these problems can be solved,
principally be deregulating labor markets, reducing taxes, reforming the
pension system and breaking the stranglehold of unions on economic life. The
bad news is the entrenched cultural resistance to those solutions--not on
the part of angry Muslim youth, but from the employed half of French society
that refuses to relinquish their subsidized existences for the sake of the
"solidarity" they profess to hold dear. So far, most attempts at reform have
failed, mainly due to a combination of union militancy and political
      There are lessons in France for the U.S., too. Advocates of
multiculturalism might take note of what happens when ethnic communities are
excluded (or exclude themselves) from the broad currents of national life.
Opponents of immigration might take note of the contrast between France's
impoverished Muslims and America's flourishing immigrant communities.

      Above all, those who want America to emulate the French social model
by mandating health and other benefits, raising tax burdens and entrenching
union power might take note of just how sour its promises have become,
especially its promises to the poor. In the matter of "solidarity," economic
growth counts more than rhetoric.

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