Sunday, November 06, 2005

Tick, tick, tick...

Theodore Dalrymple, writing in City Journal three years ago saw it coming, and said so.

The laxisme of the French criminal justice system is now notorious. Judges often make remarks indicating their sympathy for the criminals they are trying (based upon the usual generalizations about how society, not the criminal, is to blame)...A Parisian acquaintance told me how one recent evening he had seen two criminals attack a car in which a woman was waiting for her husband. They smashed her side window and tried to grab her purse, but she resisted. My acquaintance went to her aid and managed to pin down one of the assailants, the other running off. Fortunately, some police passed by, but to my acquaintance’s dismay let the assailant go, giving him only a warning.

Reported crime in France has risen from 600,000 annually in 1959 to 4 million today, while the population has grown by less than 20 percent...

Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants and a smattering of the least successful members of the French working class. From these projects, the excellence of the French public transport system ensures that the most fashionable arrondissements are within easy reach of the most inveterate thief and vandal.
A kind of anti-society has grown up in them—a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, “official,” society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust—greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years—is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.

This is a chilling read, especially since it was written three years ago. The man's a sociologist, apparently someone who takes to the "field" to learn about his subjects. Several of his anecdotes could have been from last week instead of three years ago.

I can't resist. Is this an example of that old story about the frog getting boiled alive because he didn't jump out of the water?

This piece and a current article by the same writer are linked by Sum, Ergo Cogito , a blog started less than three weeks ago by a group of young Catholics. I'm impressed. Somebody has been doing his or her homework. I have added this site to my aggregator.

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