Tuesday, November 08, 2005

French Society: No Easy Solutions

Sick Sarkozy
Riots In France

Opinion: Europe's Lost Future Deutsche Welle, Germany ..... The previous socialist cabinet set up neighborhood police departments focused on dialogue, but was unable to take back lawless enclaves. ........ Current Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy tried the law-and-order approach, but after 11 nights of police crackdown more and more cars are burning in more and more regions of the republic. ........ Sarkozy said these things even though he has realized that "liberty, equality, fraternity" has lost its luster. He's been fighting for affirmative action against the president's resistance. He wants to give Muslim immigrants preferential treatment in the hiring process for the civil service and do away with the principle of equality.

Dialogue alone will not do. A single-minded emphasis on law enforcement alone will not do. A few social and economic programs thrown like bird feed alone will not do.

These young people are destroying the very infrastructure that is their limited ladder to upward mobility. Most of the cars they are burning are cars of their neighbors. Muslim clerics are not in any position to mediate. Muslim groups with reputations of being extremist are actually busy calming things down, with little success. There is no Al Qaeda grand design. This is alienation, disaffection, poverty, racism saying enough is enough.

Citizenship papers alone don't solve problems. Ultimately it is about societal attitudes. The socio-psychological reality itself has to change and become more accepting of people of "other" backgrounds. The social space has to expand or there is implosion.

Ultimately it is an issue of addressing multiculturalism. Institutional racism can feel like a glasshouse of mirrors.

"We are not looking for minorities. We are looking for the best officers."

Does that explain why the French police are not ethnically diverse?

That reflects a society in denial. That is a police department that is ethnocentric in its basic orientation, and that can not continue on.

France as a society has failed these young people. France has to reimagine itself as a society and a country.

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