Friday, November 04, 2005

Another Non-Story


WISDOM. The mainstream media buried the news of Iraq's heavy voting turnout and constitutional confirmation under its own fabricated milestone of 2,000 American deaths in the war. They much prefer showing us the violence in Baghdad to reporting on any positive political developments in Iraq. The excuse is supposed to be the old journalistic truism "if it bleeds, it leads."

But now there is honest-to-God bleeding going on in Paris, France. So how come the MSM is reluctant to show it to us? Hugh Hewitt asked Mark Steyn about this on his radio show:

HH: Mark Steyn, how do you account for the indifference or ignorance of the mainstream media in America?

MS: Well, I think this is now basically becoming a willful effort at misleading. It's not just the United States. Other countries, too, are reporting this as their youths, or their French youth. And it isn't until you get thirteen paragraphs into the story, and they're quoting one of these youths, and you realize he's called Mohammed, that it occurs to you that there might be an ethno-cultural religious component to this situation. And this is absolutely grotesque...

If there were escalating riots night after night in 20 American cities, it would be the ONLY story in media outlets around the world. And given France's arrogant habit of lecturing America about all sorts of relevant issues -- mideast politics, racism, the superiority of the European welfare states, proper conduct of the war on terror -- the irony of a meltdown of civil order in the capital city of France would seem to cry out for extensive reporting and analysis. But that's precisely the problem, isn't it?

The real linchpin of American liberal opposition to the foreign policy of the Bush administration is actually little more than an image, scrupulously maintained, of the sleek European diplomats who gravely prefer negotiated fig leafs to confrontations with Islamofascism. It's fairly easy to promote their superior manner, couched carefully in the representation of Europe as the older, wiser, more measured voice of western civilization. I use the term "image" because that's all it is and all it has been in living memory. The equally repressed details of the oil-for-food scandal demonstrate beyond doubt that European diplomats and "statesmen" would be quite at home in the Tammany Hall of America's 19th century. The toleration, particularly in France, for antisemitic outrages, also downplayed by the MSM, must remind us that the character flaws which produced two world wars in 30 years haven't been fixed. Europeans are still the pampered problem children of the world. It is they who continue to evade adult responsibilities at every turn, who manipulate all and sundry to their own advantage while insisting that everything which doesn't go their way is wrong because it's, well, not fair.

Rioting muslims in Paris is a huge problem for the American left. It suggests that the Europacifists don't have all the answers -- about the efficacy of socialist welfare programs, about the nature of Islamic militants, about the very definition of the social justice they pretend to revere above all other things. In fact, riots in your capital make it dramatically obvious that something important is broken in your nation.

The only picture gallery I've been able to find is this one, posted by the Times of London. Here is the accompanying story:

The poor suburbs of Paris were set ablaze in the worst of eight consecutive nights of rioting, with 500 cars torched and a gym and primary school razed.

Police today reported that the wave of unrest has now spread to at least 20 provincial towns.

An army of 1,300 police reinforcements moved into the bleak estates of the north-east of Paris last night, to enforce a belated pledge by Dominique de Villepin, the Prime Minister, to stop the rioting that has engulfed the largely Muslim ghettos.

Despite hopes that Eid-ul-Fitr, the festivities ending the fasting month of Ramadan, would calm the unrest, police reports suggest an escalation in what the police union has described as a "civil war"..

Gangs of youths armed with bricks, sticks and petrol canisters spilled through the streets of high-rise housing estates, torching buses and hurling rocks at trains. At least 80 arrests were made in fierce clashes with the massed ranks of riot police.

According to one report, a disabled woman was doused in petrol and set alight when she was unable to escape a bus under attack in the northern suburb of Sevran. She was rescued by the driver and is being treated for severe burns.

Disturbances also took place for the first time in other towns, including Rouen, Marseille and Dijon..

Television networks have mostly stayed away from the scenes of the confrontations. Camera crews have been physically attacked and reports blamed for stoking the discontent.

"Why a school, why a car? What can you say about such blind violence," said Michel Beaumale, mayor of Trappes, southwest of Paris, outside the smouldering ruins of a local primary school.

Francis Masanet, leader of the UNSA police union, said: "It is very serious and we fear that events could get worse."

The warfare of the streets, initially triggered by the deaths of two African teenagers who ran into an electricity relay station fearing they were being chased by police, has flared into broader protest against the living conditions and prospects of African communities.

It has been played out against a backdrop of political bickering between the Prime Minister and Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and his rival for presidency in 2007. M de Villepin has been accused of leaving his rival to deal with the fallout from the unrest.

M Sarkozy's hard-line stance - he has spoken of "hosing down" the "scum" - has fanned the flames of protest, and may have damaged his future prospects for the presidency. It has also exposed a philosophical split in the Cabinet and country over the place of immigrants in French life, and caused policies of integration dating back 30 years to be re-examined.

Evidence of the scale of law-breaking, in what are officially known as "les quartiers difficiles", came with a police report yesterday that 28,000 vehicles had been torched in outbreaks of urban violence in France so far this year.

Unemployment among French men aged 15 to 24 has risen from 15 per cent four years ago to more than 22 per cent. It is thought to be as high as 30-40 per cent among young second- and third-generation immigrants in poorer high-rise suburbs.

Bad Hair Blog (h/t Instapundit) has been monitoring other British news organizations, including the BBC and the Economist, and reports they seem less interested in the story than the Times:

Last evening the BBCA news had 8 minutes of Joe Wilson commenting on Libby, and the business news, before they mentioned the seventh day of rioting in France. This morning they had 11 minutes of reporting on the Pakistan earthquake before mentioning the eighth day of spreading rioting in France.

I had forgotten about the Joseph Wilson story. I'm glad to be reminded. That's obviously the real reason the riots haven't gotten more attention here. After all, a dirty internecine squabble between the administration and the CIA about one still ambiguous item of Saddam's WMD activities proves that the French and Germans were dead right to oppose the Iraq War as reckless American adventurism; the right way to deal with middle eastern fascists is to smother them with flattering old world charm. That always works. Right?

Except when it doesn't. But what are a few trivial exceptions among the liberal elites who really should be ruling the world? In this case, it's better to wait for the French to get a handle on the situation and congratulate them after the fact for saving the Elysee Palace from unidentified arsonists.

That should be soon now. It better be soon. Are you listening, M. Chirac?

UPDATE. Michelle Malkin has also picked up on the item referenced above about the disabled woman who was set on fire in a bus. Her other coverage of the Paris riots is extensive and includes a link to another photo gallery.

UPDATE. Just for fun, here's Google's ham-handed mechanical translation of this page into French. Much more civilized, no?

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