Sunday, November 6


Betsy Newmark links to columnist Mark Steyn's observations of the mayhem in and around Paris and in the context of issues throughout Europe, as well as offering some of her own thoughts on the rioting and civil strife in France.

Writes Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun-Times (excerpts follow):

Ever since 9/11, I've been gloomily predicting the European powder keg's about to go up. ''By 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on the news every night,'' I wrote in Canada's Western Standard back in February. Silly me. The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule.

''French youths,'' huh? You mean Pierre and Jacques and Marcel and Alphonse? Granted that most of the "youths" are technically citizens of the French Republic, it doesn't take much time in les banlieus of Paris to discover that the rioters do not think of their primary identity as ''French'': They're young men from North Africa growing ever more estranged from the broader community with each passing year and wedded ever more intensely to an assertive Muslim identity more implacable than anything you're likely to find in the Middle East. After four somnolent years, it turns out finally that there really is an explosive ''Arab street,'' but it's in Clichy-sous-Bois.

The notion that Texas neocon arrogance was responsible for frosting up trans-Atlantic relations was always preposterous, even for someone as complacent and blinkered as John Kerry. If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans? For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America's Europhiles, France's Arab street correctly identified Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.

Sure didn't find anything close to this kind of incisive analysis in the Washington Post this morning or from the Associated Press.

Betsy offers a few spot on rhetorical questions and follows with her prognostication of serious problems well into the future in France:

But how do you fight a war against the youth in your own cities? How do you fight a war against people distributed throughout your country? It's not like our Civil War where there was basically a geographic division that combatants could recognize. Is the new division among certain suburbs vs. the rest of the country?

What will probably happen is that enough people will be arrested that the nightly stories of mass riots will stop. The politicians will pretend that they've done something to stop the violence. But that won't be the end of it, of course. Just imagine the opportunities for more rioting as all these hundreds of arrested come to trial. And then picture the next set of elections of France. Le Pen or the equivalent will be back with a message that will appeal to a lot of French voters. As politicians with a tough, nationalist anti-immigration message gain traction, expect more violent reactions from these same Muslim youths. Things aren't going to get any prettier any time in the near future.

To Mark Steyn's way of thinking, Betsy Newmark will prove as prescient as he:

If Chirac isn't exactly Charles Martel, the rioters aren't doing a bad impression of the Muslim armies of 13 centuries ago: They're seizing their opportunities, testing their foe, probing his weak spots. If burning the 'burbs gets you more ''respect'' from Chirac, they'll burn 'em again, and again. In the current issue of City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple concludes a piece on British suicide bombers with this grim summation of the new Europe: ''The sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict.'' Which sounds an awful lot like a new Dark Ages.

FOLLOW-UP: Austin Bay points to evidence that the situation in and around Paris may be far more purposeful and organized than other MSM voices (e.g., WaPo) are letting on. What's one to make of a Molotov cocktail factory, as an example? And what do "permanent cultural islands" bode for America's huge illegal alien problem and the lack of assimilation here and one common language? It's easy to take some joy in France's problems, rotten, condescending, pseudo-allies that they are, but are there lessons to be learned?