Monday, November 07, 2005

EU Referendum blog: Looking at France

Helen Szamuely spent some time Sunday putting together a solid, worthwhile essay about the Vehicle Massacres taking place in France.

This is not a revolution, nor an insurrection, nor an intifada (just try coping with that as the Israelis have had to). It is a series of riots that are not leading anywhere special and have grown out of the peculiar tensions that have existed in French society for decades, possibly since the Algerian war. And yet, it seems, that the predicted riots and possible revolution meets with no approval among those who had done the predicting.
In theory...all those who arrive in France from the former colonies, especially those who found they had to flee as a result of the Algerian war and its rather sudden ending, are French and will be treated as such. Alas, this has not been the case and the resentment has been smouldering, strengthened by the undoubted frequent brutality displayed by the police.

She contrasts the situation in France with that of Germany (with no corresponding "riots" from Europe's second largest Muslim population) which has treated immigrants as "guests" rather than new Germans.

Ralf Goergens' post this morning at Chicago Boyz says pretty much the same thing.
If you don't make any promises to people, they can't accuse you of breaking them - it's as easy as that. Germany has never been a country open to immigrants. Muslims moving always were told that they were guests, and expected to work here for some years, and then to leave again. The mostly Turkish migrant workers themselves fully intended to return sooner or later, and therefore never even tried to integrate themselves, or demanded full citizenship for themselves. Returning turned out to be a lot harder than planned. Most tried to go back, but found out that they simply no longer fitted in after a decade or two in Germany, so they reluctantly decided to stay in Germany, which is a much better country to retire in than Turkey. Even so they mostly continue to regard themselves as Turks rather than Germans, and try to instill the same feeling in their children. Since nationalism is a much more important factor with them than Islam, they are more like Mexican immigrants in the United States, than Algerian immigrants in France.

There is something to be said for allowing foreigners to be foreigners. Any pretense that someone's just-arrived grandmother who cannot and will never speak English will become a flag-waving American is just that: pretense.


Jim said...

Hoots, Mark Steyn completely disagrees with this POV; he's been predicting exactly the current scenario ever since September, 01. Check out his latest syndicated piece.

I tend to agree with Steyn, but I'd rather believe your guy is right.

Hoots said...

Your link is to a registration site (Wa Times) but I read his column in the Chicago Sun-Times, presumably the same one. That's why I felt the need to publish an alternative idea. Every time the wind blows there is a host of carping pundits trying to spin the story into pat little formulas advancing some political construct.

If you look for a war, then a war is what you will find. It's a variation on that old saw about When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Steyn can't wait to bring up Sept. 11 and John Kerry in order to puzzle this high-profile story into his theses about US politics.

I cringe at neologisms like Eurabia or Islamofascism. They don't impress me any more than religious right or right-wing extremists. If I want to talk about the John Birch Society or the Socialist Workers Party, then that is what I will say. When I want to use a generalization, then carping pundits will work for all kinds, not just the ones with which I happen to agree.