Saturday, November 05, 2005

Riots in Europe

Not much commentary about the latest unpleasantness in France and the rest of Europe. I'm not sure why. Those I talk with whose news diet is from TV don't even know, though there is a vague suspicion, that minorities or Muslims are involved. I guess political correctness is more important than accuracy in reporting in this case. Or maybe there is concern that too much reporting about that might further inflame our own minorities. After all, Latinos are already running into problems with blacks, and blacks in turn are all wound up in the passions stirred up by the Rosa Parks wake and funeral.

Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of alt.muslim, posted a tight little link-filled report with all the latest news. Odd source, if you ask me, with all the smart people out there in the blog world. I was expecting better, like the rash of interest that followed every twist and turn of the Caribbean hurricanes. I guess hurricanes are safer. When it comes to events that could have political implications, there is a lot of holding back to see first what the Sunday talking heads and designated party leaders have to say.

From what I gather the word "suburb" in the reports can be understood better by Americans if we think "inner-city." I presume that unlike in America where towns and cities are only a couple of hundred years old, mostly surrounded by spaces that have only been "owned" for a few generations, European cities and lands have been around for centuries. Suburbia in America offers more bang for the buck...bigger lots, newer construction, better property values, and a protective distance from the great unwashed. Europeans apparently are too crowded or too rooted to afford these luxuries.

Most, but not all of Europe is affected. Here is an interesting article about Poland.

While Paris burns, Poland does not. Isn't that strange? The Poles have an unemployment rate which is as high as the unemployment rates in French suburbs. Yet while "angry French youths" burn down their neighbourhoods, including their public transport buses and schools, Polish plumbers, construction workers and nurses are too busy to be angry. They travel abroad for several weeks at a time to work in foreign lands. One of the places they go to is France, where they work harder, often delivering better quality and at lower wages than French workers.
Mark Brands is a clever young Dutch entrepreneur. Last year he founded Eurostar25, a company which negotiates temporary contracts between Dutch employers and Polish workers.
An obvious solution to the "anger" of the unemployed "youths" in Clichy-sous-Bois and the other burning suburbs of Paris would be to send in an entrepreneur like Mark Brands to offer them the same kind of jobs that he is offering to Poles, Czechs and Greeks. Why doesn't that happen? Why is there no "invasion" of unemployed workers from Clichy-sous-Bois and similar places? Why do they prefer to burn down schools rather than to follow the Polish example?

Perhaps because despite the so-called poverty and destitution of which they are victims (at least according to the media), the Islamic "youths" of Clichy are the spoiled brats of the West European welfare state. Despite the media talk of "discrimination" (if there is any discrimination of immigrants in Western Europe, it is "positive" discrimination), they get the same generous welfare benefits as other Frenchmen.

The West European government handouts are so high that none of the allegedly "frustrated and angry unemployed" are willing to do the kind of jobs that the Poles gladly take. The moral perversion which accompanies socialism has affected Muslims to a larger extent than it has affected people raised in the traditional Christian culture of the West with its stronger sense of individual responsibility – and even among the latter social welfarism has had devastating effects on traditional morality, which has almost disappeared.

There's more, but you get the idea. That idea, which I consider flawed, is that the more people are "spoiled" by government policies, the more likely they will misbehave. Citizens are children and governments are parents. Spare the rod and spoil the child. It is but a small step to laissez-faire economics. That government is best that governs least. Current Libertarian thinking derives from this appealing idea.

As a parent having reared a few kids of my own, I see such thinking as equivalent to boarding school, with the business community in loco parentis, but not obligated to take care of any children not able or willing to abide by the rules. Those with behavior problems, disabilities or the wrong pedigree can find elsewhere to board and get educated.

Oh, there are plenty of times I wanted to fire my kids. If they had been on a company payroll I would have initiated the first of a three-stage "progressive discipline" followed by termination if the behavior didn't change. But responsible parents do not have that option. Some act like it, of course, but the results are often a disfunctional family that passes uncorrected bad behavior to the next generation.

The article above also has a not-very-subtle subtext: Christianity is somehow better at producing responsible workers than Islam. "Social welfarism" has been devastating for traditional [Christian?] morality, but the effect on Muslims has been downright toxic. It's thinking like this that makes me know I am not ripe to become a Conservative. Notice how certain words above are placed in quotes, to be sure the reader doesn't get the idea that the writer doesn't want to characterize the rioters as youth or have any truck with ideas like discrimination, most especially positive discrimination. He had no trouble with the label spoiled brats. Modern Liberals may be morally retrograde, but modern conservatism continues to move toward the fascist end of the political continuum. Given the option, I will continue to stand among the untouchables.

The question remains: Why have rioting young people reached the flash-point and what is the most constructive government response? Has anyone figured out that when people have something at stake they are more likely to protect it? Has Europe thought to look across the pond to figure out how minority issues might be dealt with more effectively?

America is far from being the Promised Land, but it has been decades since the whole country erupted in rioting. Locally we still have more than our share of problems, but nationally we may be on the right track. A national commitment to civil rights and what Rosa Parks did years ago may have contributed to what passes for stability these days, efforts to torpedo affirmative action notwithstanding.

One more footnote: I find it reassuring that so many disaffected young people -- most of whom are reported to be Muslims from North Africa -- are disorganized to the point of rioting. Some, of course, work behind the scenes to become terrorits. But a lot more are clearly more open with their frustrations. At some level that is encouraging. To the extent that this population can be transformed into productive members of their respective countries, they will reduce the number of potential recruits for more sinister damage as terrorists. These riots present a sharp contrast to the image we have been fed of a quiet but devious Muslim plot to destroy host countries by jihad. What we are seeing is nothing holy. It's nothing more than old-fashioned criminal behavior.

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