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Monday, November 14, 2005

An Absolutely Terrific Article Courtesy of FrontPage

This is a first class article which gets beneath the banality about what is happening in France and why. We are referring to the attempted Muslim overthrow of France and the abortuses constituting French responses.

In the article, inset in blockquote format, all emphases are ours.

FrontPage :: Gangs in Search of an Ideology by Michael Radu, November 14, 2005

Of the Muslim rioting that began in poor suburbs of Paris on October 27, Mohammed Rezzoug, caretaker of the municipal athletics center in Le Blanc-Mesnil says, "It's not a political revolution or a Muslim revolution... There's a lot of rage. Through this burning, they're saying, 'I exist, I'm here.' "[1]

Obviously, Mr. Rezzoug is well integrated in French culture -- or at least in its habit of theorizing ad nauseam over everything. However, things in France are not what they used to be -- hence the shift from Rene Descartes' famous dictum, "Cogito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am") in the seventeenth century to Mr. Rezzoug's "They burn, therefore they are."

Here we must interrupt Mr. Radu's flow to set the record straight. There is absolutely no shift whatsoever from Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum." Many people have erroneously attributed profundity to Descartes for that statement, but it represents the complete return to a primacy of consciousness way of thinking--contrasting with a primacy of existence way of thinking, in which consciousness is simply a part of reality. Descartes' way comes from Plato and sets the stage for Kant, Hegel, and now all the way to the French postmodernists and their intellectual offspring who are trying to take over France by force. No one thinks and then becomes. Consciousness does not create reality. It should state: I am, therefore I think.

This may seem to be a trivial distinction, but, in the history of mankind, the primacy of consciousness versus the primacy of existence viewpoints have had profound influences. Those raging through the streets of France in the spirit of "They burn, therefore they are" are living examples of how bad ideas create bad results via human behavior. The burners are truly Cartesian, among other things.

And burn they do. Youth gangs, overwhelmingly French-born and Muslim, have engaged in a nation-wide rampage that by November 8 had burned 5,000 vehicles, a few schools, kindergartens, police stations, shopping malls, and post offices. Police officers have been wounded and an older man beaten to death. Some 800 individuals have been arrested and a curfew locally imposed to stem this anomic wave of gang violence that is spreading all over France -- and beyond. But the riots increasingly and alarmingly suggest that Islamist radicals see criminality as an opportunity for recruitment, while the criminals see Islam as a legitimizer.

There are gangs, and there are Gangs...

The Independent tells of how in one Paris suburb, Aulnay- sous-Bois, 20-year-old Abdelkarim, the caid (leader in Arabic) of the local gang, boasts of the 2,000 euros he makes on each car stolen: "You want prostitutes, DVD players, jewelry? I can get anything you want." His talk is of poverty, discrimination, and dreams of his family's Morocco, but also of his anti-Semitism and hashish habit. "'Look around you -- there is nothing here. We live four to a room. Our parents go to work like zombies. But we have nothing. Even the jobs around here go to people from elsewhere. This parking lot is like our living room,' he said. One of his friends . . . held a mobile phone. 'Come and look,' he gestured, laughing. It was a short film of a Chechen guerrilla cutting off the head of a Russian soldier."[2]

No one is there to comfort and provide for them; therefore, they feel entitled to destroy.

If one replaces names like Abdelkarim or Karim with Pablo or Deshawn and Aulnay-sous-Bois with Watts or South Bronx, with a few extraordinary exceptions we have a similar profile: uneducated young men from broken families, deep involvement in criminality, contempt for their parents' low-paying jobs, identification with gangs, resentment of outsiders -- in short, the lost urban youth of the West. When a father from Aulnay-sous-Bois complains, "How am I supposed to inculcate the work ethic in my son, when his friends have Nikes given to them by their drug-dealer fathers?" that should sound very familiar to many parents in urban America.

However, while American gangs like the Hispanic Mara Salvatrucha, the Jamaican Posse, and the Crips or Bloods are racist (anti-white, anti-Hispanic or both, as the case may be), violent, and antisocial, their exclusive goals are money and turf control. That is also true of their French (or British) confreres, but in the latter cases Islamist beliefs play or could soon play a decisive justifying role.

These exceptions, however, are essential if we are to understand the importance of the events taking place in France's cities these past weeks. The most important of those exceptions are the gangs' religious identity and the elite's cultural attitudes. The criminally dysfunctional youths of la banlieue are made more potent because they operate in an increasingly dysfunctional society, which in the United States may be local but in France is national. And, as a British observer put it, "Mexicans are not Moroccans (think religion). . . . Nor are the fires of disintegration already burning, as they are in [Interior Minister Nicolas] Sarkozy's France."[3]

Abdelkarim says "From my window I can see the Eiffel Tower . . . . But Paris is another world. This is Baghdad." He exaggerates (so far), but should be taken seriously. Especially when Jean-Louis Debre, the Speaker of the National Assembly and mayor of Evreux, seems to agree, calling the unrest "a true episode of urban guerrilla."[4] Meanwhile, the police union chimed in with its own alarmism: "Nothing seems to be able to stop the civil war that spreads a bit more every day across the whole country," it said, advocating the intervention of the army.[5]

What stops what is going on are reason-based ideas and behaviors, the opposite of the very ideas which started these behaviors and paralyzes the French to stop the civil war.

The "Evil Minister"

Naturally enough, for the hoods in the banlieues, "Ever since Sarko came into the government, life has been s--t," said Abdelkarim's friend Kamel, age 16. "He treats us like dogs. Well, we'll show him how dogs can react." On this point, he and the outspoken minister, who talks of "cleaning out" the racaille (riff-raff), are speaking the same language. The latter sees the riots as a clear attempt by the gang leaders to keep control, which he is determined to regain. The problem is that the false sense of victimhood felt by the gangsters is shared by many more Muslims. Thus, Murad, a Moslem leader in Aulnay, says "Islam has been insulted [by a tear gas canister which landed in front of a mosque] and nobody has yet asked forgiveness. . . . If there would have been a tear gas canister in a church or synagogue, Sarkozy would have gone there to apologize."[6] (Never mind that on November 7 a church in Lens was firebombed and no Muslim apologies were forthcoming.)

Islam is the French "schmoo," to borrow that mythical creation of Al Capp's. Islam provides all the ideology. Islam provides the excuses. And, Islam condones pathological narcissism because it is committed in the name of Islam. Get this: A tear gas canister lands IN FRONT OF a mosque, and these Muslim youth feel mortally offended and authorized to behave like savages to avenge some imagined insult to Islam. Oh yes, and there have been no apologies.

Worse still, the leftist opposition -- socialists, Greens, communists, human rights activists, and most of the intellectual elites also agree with Kamel,that the problem is not the gangs of arsonists but "the system": law and order, the police and, especially, Sarkozy.

The Interior Minister by what we see over here may be one of the few rational Frenchmen in the entire country. He wants to preserve and protect the citizens and their property. How utterly gauche. He calls the scum names, and they are offended. Poor things. It is clear that taking Sarkozy down and out means breaking what is left of rationality in France.

The next section of this fine article is so important that we want to single it out:

Le Monde writes, "To the provocations of Nicolas Sarkozy answers the stupidity of teenagers, who ruin the fragile economic tissue and burn the buses borrowed by their families. Some of the arsonists were victims of a system, before becoming small mafiosos taking advantage of the situation."[7] So, the mayhem was an "answer" to the Interior Minister's calling the criminals "criminals and hooligans"? Criminality becomes "stupidity" and criminals become victims." It is precisely this kind of language to which philosopher Jean-Francois Mattei refers below:

The betrayal of the language: when one does not have the courage to face things, one speaks to better obscure them. We apply the usual meaning of words to the violence we know in the urbanized banlieues and elsewhere. In France one does not speak anymore of 'riots' but of 'harassment actions'; not of 'delinquents' but of 'youths'; not of 'drug trafficking' but of 'parallel economy'; not of 'policemen' but of 'provocateurs'; . . . not of 'lawless zones' but of 'sensitive neighborhoods'; not of 'infringement of the right' to work: but of 'movement of legitimate

In his fine book Explaining Postmodernism (our review here), Dr. Stephen Hicks, explains how this Franco-America modern philosophy, which so permeates Europe and North America, implements its ideas via its distorted use of language. To postmodernist savages, language is a WEAPON, used not to express ideas or communicate, but to accomplish its socialist goals. The French philosopher referred to by Le Monde, Jean-Francois Mattei, utterly nails this phenomenon which empowers the rabble and paralyzes the French at all levels.

Or from the statement of the "anti-racist" MRAP (Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples):

MRAP has compassion for the victims of the riots [but] the words crime or riot are never used. Instead, all is explained through "social, ethnic and territorial 'apartheid,' the refusal to respond to a social fracture expanded by an ethnic one. If police were attacked, it is because there are 'tensions' between this daily victimized population and police. As for law, well, the only thing to do is check the circumstances of the deaths of the two teenagers self-electrocuted [in hiding from the police at a power station, which set off the riots] and of the tear gas canister falling in front of a Clichy mosque. Most importantly, MRAP demands 'total mobilization against racist discrimination' and against "any racist exploitation of these dramas and sufferings generated by violence.[9]

And then there is the communist newspaper L'Humanite:

Nicolas Sarkozy's arrogance evidently has no limits. . . . After having deliberately lit the fuse, he happily surveys the damage, and wants time to think about it. . . . The suburbs are not a special case. The suburbs are France, the France that suffers at work, is unemployed. . . . The future of the French model of social justice -- of all our futures -- lies in the suburbs. That is why Nicolas Sarkozy wants to break them. . . . Rather than endless images of burnt cars, we must give a voice to the suburbs. And we must listen to them![10]

Does this verbiage sound familiar? It is the stock in trade of the American Democrat Party, American media, and American academia. They are as far gone as are the French.

Once again, criminals have nothing to do with it. In fact the banlieues "are France." And it was the Interior Minister's fault for insulting the rioters. As for the leader of the opposition, Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande, he made it clear that he considers "intolerable" Sarkozy's words. His party asked President Jacques Chirac to make "strong gestures" and "apologies" in order to calm the violence.[11]

All of these "analyses" and solutions coming from the French Left -- the very same Left that was in power for most of the past quarter of century--are unconvincing, to say the least. The Left did try to "solve" the Muslim immigrant problem the only way it knows: by spending. Clichy-sous-Bois' mayor, Claude Dilain, a socialist and the vice-president of the French Convention of Municipal Authorities, is said to be a proactive mayor, setting up free soccer training for local youth, appointing youth leaders as mediators and making sure that the community's waste collection service functions properly. Clichy-sous-Bois is an amalgam of schools, daycare centers, welfare offices, parks and a college that looks like something out of an architecture competition. The community library is currently sponsoring a writing contest themed 'I come from afar, I like my country.'"[12] Result? The current wave of violence started in his very town.

As for the minister, his answer is quite simple: "I ask that we assess correctly the fundamental role of police presence in the suburbs. The police are the Republic's police. They keep order in the republic. If they don't do it, what order will replace them? That of the Mafias or fundamentalists." [13] Obviously, it is the latter.

You can demand of reality, i.e., existence, i.e. "Mother Nature," what you will, but reality pays attention only to the premises directing people's behavior. Reality always delivers, not necessarily when people think it ought to, but when the reality conditions are right. So, in a real sense, you always get what you ask for; only, its your premises doing the asking. Living substandard philosophy gives the French just what they are getting. Reality always wins.

Enter the Islamists

For many years, in the Paris region, Islamist ideology has tried to take advantage of unemployment and unrest. "It is time to open our eyes."[14] Now, youths crying "God is great" rampage and demand that areas where Muslims form a majority be reorganized on the basis of the millet (religious community) system of the Ottoman Empire, with each millet enjoying the right to organize its life in accordance with its religious beliefs. In parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place, with women obliged to wear the hijab and men to grow beards; alcohol and pork products forbidden; "places of sin" such as cinemas closed down; and local administration seized.

The message in the suburbs is that French authorities should keep out.[15] Who will replace them? We have already some clear indications:

Suddenly 'big brothers' -- devout bearded men from the mosques who wear long traditional robes -- are positioning themselves between the
authorities and the rioters in Clichy-sous-Bois, calling for order in the name of Allah. As thousands of voices shout 'Allahu Akbar' from the windows of high-rise apartment buildings, shivers run down the spines of television viewers in their seemingly safe living rooms.[16]

Those citizens have good reasons to worry indeed. First, in France (as well as in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany) Muslims are wildly over-represented in prisons. In France they make a majority of inmates, and in jails close to the banlieues as much as 80 percent.[17]

Second, Islamist terrorists from France (and Spain, Netherlands, and Belgium) have a profile quite distinct from that of their counterparts in the Muslim world, inasmuch as they contain a far more significant number of (usually petty) criminals. The available data suggest that Islamist criminality in France has a history at least a decade long. Thus, Khaled Khelkal, considered the mastermind of the wave of bombings in France in the mid-1990s, who was shot by police in 1995, became a hero in the banlieues. Born near Lyons to Algerian parents, Khelkhal went to the prestigious La Martiniere lycee in that city but, he claimed, dropped out and engaged in a criminal career because he could not "tolerate being marginal and rejected by the others" -- and because he chose to follow the example of his brother, Nouredine, who was already in jail for armed robbery.[18] More recently, two French-born Algerian and two Tunisian immigrants were arrested in July 2005 for alleged terrorism and links to the main Algerian Islamist terrorist organization, which is part of the Al Qaeda nebula, while also being linked to a prostitution racket.[19]

How many of the hundreds arrested so far will become Islamists once they complete their ridiculously short prison sentences -- usually a few months --and how that prison time will help them on their path remains to be seen. What is clear is that the mass of present arsonists will vastly reinforce the ranks of Islamists in France and beyond.


The reasons for all this are often attributed to factors like "alienation from both parental roots and country of origin, and the society in which they live."[20] Sociologists call this phenomenon re-Islamization, and it is increasing in intensity among second and third generation Muslims in Western Europe. Those young Muslims who were born in Europe lost their ties with the country of their parents, while at the same time their families suffered the same disintegration as their native ones, with parents losing control over their children, to gangs and/or Islamists. Hence, such youths are no more Algerians, Moroccans, or Pakistanis, but neither are they French or British. Therefore Islam, however understood or misunderstood, becomes the default identity. Indeed, complaining of high unemployment and using it as an "explanation" of Muslim violence and refusal to integrate misses the point. Leaving aside the obvious fact that, since they are mostly teenagers and thus should be in school, not on the job market, these youths, "French against their will, products of Arab-African immigration, intend to maintain their cultural and religious specificities. Far from wanting to mix and integrate in a scared France which confuses indulgence with tolerance, they continuously look to their close origins, due to modern means of communication, and refuse to come out from their identity ghetto."[21]

Second, unemployment is not a result of "discrimination." Hence, when Hugues Lagrange of l'Observatoire sociologique du changement (CNRS) claims that "the main reason for these tendencies [to violence] lies in the unemployment of unskilled
youths,"[22] he misses the irony. Could it be that they are unemployed
because, instead of staying in schools, they prefer to skip or burn them and thus remain unskilled

Ideas are important. Humans must have a structure of ideas to form a personal philosophy. Each human must have it. If it is not formed explicitly, eliminating conflicts, then it will be formed implicitly and struggle with the unresolvable, the conflicts. French society is intellectually bankrupt. Islam is intellectually bankrupt. Yet, of the two, Islam is more attractive because it gives youth what they call an "identity," what we would call a "raison d'etre," to borrow a little French. At the core of us all is the need to experience ourselves as having meaning, purpose, and value, even if it is something as corrupt as Islam.

What do you call it when people utterly reject the very means able to give them what the best within each wants? What do you call it when someone about to drown in tossing seas tears up the flotation device thrown him, instead of taking as his means of survival? In the case of the French and its new hoodlums, this is exactly what they are doing.

None of this is to say that unemployment, which has been running at 10 percent in recent years for those who actually want to work, is not a major problem in France. It is, and that is the result of France's massive rejection of capitalism. A recent poll shows that 61 percent of professionals, 68 percent of employees, 70 percent of industrial workers, a majority of merchants and artisans, and 60 percent of youths between 18 and 34 years of age oppose it.[23] That and many Muslims' rejection of integration are the two main reasons why it is so hard to be optimistic about any short-term improvement in France's situation -- and indeed Europe's.
Capitalism is the engine of progress, prosperity, ever improving conditions of life, and the means to implement the right to the pursuit of happiness. Its alternatives are communism, socialism, Nazism, fascism, medievalism, Islam, the Dark Ages, all tribalism, and all other social systems which deny human freedom and the rights of the individual. Their finest product is misery. Yet, people like the French continue to long for the unhygenic world of their Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a premedieval world of misery, filth, disease, starvation, and the like. Why do they long for this anti-capitalism? Because they have absorbed centuries of European philosophy which taught them to put out their own eyes, to deafen themselves, and to deny all evidence of their senses about the success of capitalism. Postmodernism simply reinforces those rotten ideas.

Why Europe, and Not France?

The fundamental problems of the French banlieues are far from unique. Romano Prodi, the leader of the Italian leftist opposition, has already stated that similar developments in his country are a matter of when, not if.[24] Nor are the European elites' confusion and inability to leave political correctness behind different from France's. The even more serious problem is the "democratic deficit" within the European Union. Brussels and many national elites show disregard, if not contempt, for the anxieties of the majority, and for reality. A recent EU Commission paper echoes the French Left's approach. As The Guardian reports: "In an attempt to ensure that the vast majority of peaceful Muslims are not portrayed as terrorist sympathizers, the paper says: 'The commission believes there is no such thing as 'Islamic terrorism,' nor 'Catholic', nor 'red' terrorism. . . . The fact that some individuals unscrupulously attempt to justify their crimes in the name of a religion or ideology cannot be allowed in any way . . . to cast a shadow upon such a religion or ideology."[25]

This, after the very same commission identified a "crisis of identity" among young people born to immigrant parents as a key danger. "The document describes radicalization as "a modern kind of dictatorship", likens it to neo-Nazism or nationalism, and says the internet, university campuses, and places of worship are tools of recruitment. It says second-generation immigrants often feel little connection to their parents' country or culture but may also encounter discrimination in European countries.[26] In short, the commission correctly identified the nature of the threat -- Islamist terrorism -- but lacked the courage to name it. How very Brussels!

France has long been seen, and still sees itself, as a model for Europe. The present developments may well prove that Francophiles are right, but not for the reasons they usually have in mind. Geography, size, and its number of Muslims all make France a pivotal element in what amounts to a cultural conflict of continental dimensions. Following the Madrid bombings of 3/11/04 and the London bombings of 7/11/05, the riots in France force the old continent to realize that there is a "Muslim problem" related to, but not just, the Islamist terrorist
problem. So far, only hesitant steps have been taken toward recognition of the former. France, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Austria have already witnessed, through the political rise of populist, nationalist parties, what happens when governing elite denial of the problem persists. In democracies, someone will always offer a solution when the public demands one. The present spectacle in France is not encouraging.


[1] Molly Moore, "Rage of French Youth Is a Fight for Recognition: Spreading Rampage in Country's Slums Is Rooted in Alienation and Abiding Government Neglect," Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2005.

[2] Hugh Schofield, "La Haine: Schools, synagogues and hundreds of cars burn. It's Paris 2005," The Independent, Nov. 6, 2005

[3] Niall Ferguson, "You shouldn't have to burn cars to get a better life - ask my Bolivian cleaning lady," The Telegraph, Nov. 6, 2005.

[4] "Les violences urbaines gagnent du terrain, 1300 vehicules incendies," Le Point

[5], Nov. 7, 2005.

[6] C. G., "L'islam ne joue pas un role determinant dans la propagation des troubles," Le Figaro, Nov. 5, 2005.

[7] " Modestie et ambition, " Le Monde, Nov. 5, 2005.

[8] Jean-Francois Mattei, " Philosopher Violences urbaines, crescendo dans la barbarie, " Le Figaro, Nov. 3, 2005

[9] MRAP, " Violences: une insurrection previsible qui appelle des ruptures, " Nov. 4, 2005, at

[10] Editorial, L'Humanite, Nov. 7, 2005

[11] " Banlieue : le PS interpelle Chirac. Le Parti socialiste a reclame vendredi du
president de la Republique des "gestes forts" et des "excuses" afin d'apaiser le climat de violence de ces derniers jours, Reuters/Liberation.Fr, Nov. 4, 2005.

[12] Rudiger Falksohn, Thomas Huetlin, Romain Leick, Alexander Smoltczyk and Gerald Traufetter, "Rioting in France. What's Wrong with Europe?" Der Spiegel, Nov. 7, 2005, at

[13] Nicolas Sarkozy, Notre strategie est la bonne", Le Monde, Nov. 5, 2005

[14] Ivan Rioufol, " Cites: les non-dits d'une rebellion, " Le Figaro, Nov. 4, 2005.

[15] Amir Taheri, "Why Paris is burning," New York Post, Nov. 5, 2005.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Farhad Khosrokhavar, L'Islam dans le prisons (Balland, Paris 2004), p.11

[18] Jean-Marie Pontaut and Khaled Kelkal, " Itineraire d'un terroriste, " L'Express, Sept. 26, 1996.

[19] Colette Thomas, La France sur le qui-vive, Sept. 26, 2005, at

[20] Stephen Castle, "Europe speeds up plan to clamp down on suspects," Belfast Telegraph, July 14, 2005.

[21] Jacques Myard, " Assez d'angelisme, adaptons nos methodes repressives sans mollir, " Le Figaro, Nov. 4, 2005.

[22] Cecilia Gabizon, " Emeutes : des meneurs au profil de recidivistes, " Le Figaro, Nov. 5, 2005.

[23] Herve Nathan, " Le capitalisme n'a pas la cote chez les Francais, " Liberation, Nov. 4, 2005.

[24] Prodi: "Qui le periferie peggiori d'Europa" Per il leader dell'Unione "non siamo diversi da Parigi, e solo questione di tempo". Le soluzioni: edilizia e protezione sociale , Corriere dela Sera, Nov. 11, 2005, at

[25] Nicholas Watt and Leo Cendrowicz, "Brussels calls for media code to avoid aiding terrorists," The Guardian , Sept. 21, 2005.

[26] Stephen Castle, "Europe speeds up plan to clamp down on suspects," Belfast Telegraph, July 14, 2005.
Kudos to the author for a superb article and to Front Page Magazine for publishing it.

Americans are not listening either. Few adults want to take the time to examine the ideas they have stuffed away in their heads implicitly and iron out the sabotaging contradictions. Mention personal philosophy, and watch adults glaze over.

We still have time before we hear the flap of wings, and each of us can arm ourselves with good ideas. As for the sound of the flapping of wings, it will be coming from the chickens--coming home to roost.


  • At Mon Nov 14, 05:53:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I follow the French forums. I read today that Philippe de Villiers, the anti-immigration leader of the "Movement for France" (MPF) is gaining on the Chirac-Villepin idiocy. Almost 30% of polled French, said the MPF was most capable of revolving the "ghetto" crisis. That is good enough base support, to build on for the decisive elections next year. The MPF slogan is: "France: Love it or Leave It." (Grassroot US Republicans - gotta love them - held to that in the late 'sixties' turmoil)

    Do not give up on France. The Chirac-Pack, etc, however, can go to Hell!

    The media is pointing the finger at disadvantaged blacks, as much as Muslim terrorists. If you read French, try to find black hate on the #1 black forum in France. In fact, you can read some criticism of Islam, from a Christian and African spiritualist perspective. Dare I accuse the media of anti-black racism?

  • At Tue Nov 15, 06:44:00 AM PST, Blogger George Mason said…

    Hi Anonymous,

    You are offering some new information, and thanks for it. With the url you provided, we will have an opportunity to check out the MPF. As for giving up on France, this is really not something we want to do. We may have to stand off, however, until and if they get their ship of state righted.

    We are very much aware of two Frances, using the term with our own meaning. When we were in the Navy and had port calls in southern France, which also allowed us to get out beyond the Med into southern France, we met people just as solid, decent, and utterly delightful as any from anywhere. The "other" France hovers around Paris, and it is the one that commands the media and holds itself up to the world as all-of-France. The trouble is, the Paris tail wags the French dog.

    Why, who would ever accuse the media of anti-black racism? These media people are THE best people on earth, busily setting all the standards of goodness for all of us. Just ask them.


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