portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

anti-racism | community building

After the French Riots: what next? a comparison of U.S. & France ethnic regime varieties

I suppose I'm posting this in an interest to start conversation about how issues of integration/segregation and lack of opportunities are the issue in the French riots, as well as how complicated AND CASE SPECIFIC four factors like spatial realtions, history, class, and caste relations can make a world of difference how a particular "ethnic regime" position is constructed. Black Americans and Native Americans are closer to what French Muslims positionally experience I say, becase of how the "ethnic regimes" many factors work out, instead of what American Muslims experience.
First some comments. Please read the two things I put below before responding, it helps to frame what I was thinking about.

Right off, I thought the aftermath is interesting, at least the "recent aftermath" tentatively so far (because it depends on the upcoming French elections and how much the French embrace protofascist Sarkozy or reject him, they rejected Le Pen before so that is hopeful).

First, it notes an age old truism: RIOTS WORK. It reminds me of that Kennedy quote about if reform is made impossible by reactionaries, then revolution is almost assured.

Furthermore, another truism would be that riots don't work everywhere due to differences in the spatial/ethnic/class/caste regimes of different state societies and the complicated interactions of these many factors in how it sculpts any so called--and I would say misnamed--"ethnic" issue. Misnamed because one "ethnic" issue in another country, even for the same "ethnic" group can have a world of different social relations. For instance the closest thing to ghettoized groups in the U.S. would be the Native Americans and the Black Americans, as a whole--not necessarily groups self-identifying as Muslim or Black African secular per se. While in France, you have the spatial issues combined with the lack of integration and the murder of up to 1 million Algerians as recently as 1962 in North African "France."--as well as rejection by most of European White French society for integration.

All in all, it's important to keep watching France, the one shining country that rejected the fascist/globalist corporatists of the current recipe of the EU, because on the French pivot all of Europe rests... In this "recent aftermath", it is interesting that the reaction to the riots will hopefully be more ingegration and opportunities for the ghettoized. However, in the U.S. you have systemic Black American problems equally untractable, and equally polarized--perhaps even more than France--and equally totally full of empty banal promises without any actual changes. However, compared to the French elites, the U.S. white political elites are far more protofascist and racist than their French counterparts. Probabaly something to do with the organized crime (which is always right wing, thug culture, and reactionary politically) that runs the U.S. more openly from all sides of the political spectrum whether Democratic or Republican.

I was really quite shocked to see any progressive policies being aired at all toward integration.

Watch France closely: without the French "Non!" vote on the EU constitution just this summer, right now Bush would have "rights" to take European military out of Europe and send it into service of his global fascist narcoregime (through NATO, dominated by the U.S.), where all European countries militaries would be subsidizing the Bush family's NWO/PNAC projects of a European/U.S. collectivized fascist colonialism.

Watch France: it is a pivot. Here's to keeping it from being lassoed into the Bush League's evil empire as a partner in crime.




French PM unveils plans to help youths after riots
Thu Dec 1, 2005 2:40 PM GMT12
Printer Friendly | Email Article | RSS


By Helene Fontanaud

PARIS (Reuters) - France unveiled plans on Thursday to give youngsters in poor suburbs a better education and equal opportunities after its worst urban rioting in almost 40 years, and said it would punish discrimination with swingeing fines.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who used emergency measures to quell the unrest, is now under pressure to show he can tackle the problems behind three weeks of rioting, mostly by youths of African or Arab origin.

He said acts of discrimination would be punishable by fines of up to 25,000 euros, firms would consider guidelines to make job applications anonymous and the government and trade unions would try to increase diversity in the state sector.

"The crisis we have just lived through has revealed weaknesses and inadequacies and has made us aware of the progress which has to be made," Villepin told his monthly news conference.

"The urgency today is to make equality of opportunity a reality for everyone, with two levers: jobs and education."

Thousands of cars were set ablaze in the unrest, which ended in mid-November after the government invoked a colonial-era law allowing it to declare curfews. The rioters complained of high unemployment and exclusion from mainstream French society.

Villepin, who made cutting unemployment his conservative government's priority after President Jacques Chirac appointed him on May 31, hailed a fall in the jobless rate below 10 percent in recent months but said this was not enough.

He said children who faced difficulties at school would receive more support, and outlined a "contract of parental responsibility" to be drawn up with social workers and schools to ensure parents were involved in their children's education.

Villepin also said young people would be able to take up apprenticeships from the age of 14 instead of 16 and that the prestigious Sciences Po university would set up an experimental school in a poor Paris suburb that was hit by rioting.

"We need action. We have to reject state helplessness and find solutions for the problems of the French people," he said.

Many young people in the suburbs have expressed doubts that the government will carry out its promises, and the opposition Socialist Party remained sceptical.

"He is trying to play Father Christmas with a gift parcel in which there is nothing," Socialist Party spokesman Julien Dray said. "There isn't any money for the suburbs, for the people on the ground, or to change things."

Villepin also faces dissent on some policy issues from his number two in government, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. (Who is his upcoming Presidential candidate contender.)

Sarkozy, who has made no secret of his presidential ambitions and could face a battle with Villepin to lead the centre-right into the 2007 presidential election (toward another last minute failure, like a repeat of the Chirac/Le Pen run off of before that the French rejected en masse to support rather conservative Chirac given no other options), supports "positive discrimination" or affirmative action to help minorities find jobs. Villepin again ruled that out.

(Additional reporting by Laure Bretton)

 link to today.reuters.co.uk





American Muslims Not Like Those of France

Arab American News, Commentary, Ali Moossavi, Dec 01, 2005

DETROIT - As France burns and the heat of its fires are felt across the European continent, the recurring question isn't the issue of racism or equality, or of the inevitable outbursts from the cesspools of the have-nots that mark the inherent established order of the modern nation-state. The issue, according to the media and statesmen, is integration.

Much has been made about the student uprising of 1968 that almost brought down the French government, which saw a similar revolutionary approach and coordination throughout the country. But the comparison is inappropriate. Ideas did not motivate these young Arabs and Africans to burn cars, but rather a socio-economic malaise of racism and poverty that betrays the Republic's revolutionary promise of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternitie.

What happened in France would never happen here, not because the United States is less racist, but because the class and demography of the Muslim community here bear almost no resemblance to its counterpart in Europe.

There are working class Muslims here and middle class Muslims over there, but a better comparison to make with the communities over there would be with the black and Latino communities here. Today's ghettoes and barrios are the legacies of American colonialism and disenfranchisement, both in the slave trade and in the continuing neo-colonial relationship with Latin America. It is here that the appropriate comparisons can be made.

The youth who are wild in the French streets are the legacies of European domination of North Africa.

Part of the brutal rape, the dark continent suffered for almost two centuries; North Africa witnessed mass murder in Libya by Mussolini's Italy before World War II and the Algerian war of independence from 1954 until 1962, leaving one million dead Algerians in its wake.

It was this conflict that forever destroyed the idea that Algeria was a part of France, and perhaps the second-class status of post-colonial immigrants was the country's revenge against defeat.

That defeat in the idea of French superiority also led to the rise of neo-fascism, where former army officers and torturers like Jean-Marie Le Pen formed the Front Nationale to ensure that non-whites are okay as long as they're controlled. The reaction that followed was logical.

It was as logical for North Africans to rebel against police brutality, poverty and inequality in the French banlieues - French projects - as it was for African-Americans and Latinos in Los Angeles in 1992.

One reason is the simple fact that Muslim youth in America aren't ghetto youth; they lead middle class lives with the means to fulfill their middle class dreams. As a Lebanese friend remarked to me during a Palestine solidarity march in Dearborn four years ago after I jokingly suggested that these Arab youths start rioting, "That'll never happen; this is a middle-class community."

This is, of course, the American dream and it's exactly why our parents and we moved here in the first place. As the saying goes, however, it's a mixed blessing.

While we can afford nice houses and cars and give our kids a future, it also blinds to the reality that we are people of color, with foreign ways and funny names that will always doom us to some form of discrimination. With every election, with more funds gathered and the occasional politician bothering to show up and say a few words, we delude ourselves into thinking, "Our time is coming soon. We'll alter Washington's pro-Israel bent and assume our rightful place in the American mainstream."

All we did was help put Bush in the White House in 2000 and wasted our time with Kerry in 2004. Not only are we nowhere nearer to this goal, but we also have suffered setbacks - the Patriot Act, Iraq invasion, covert regime change, etc.

We lack the financial clout of the Jewish lobby and we lack the voting numbers of the Christian Right. The same corporations that sell weapons to Israel and the dictatorships, control Congress, the Pentagon and the White House also control Hollywood and the media, which continue to portray us as terrorists and morons, influencing American social and political attitudes.

Another difference between here and there is the symmetry of the conflict. The Muslims of Britain, France, Russia and Spain, for example, are the ghosts of their particular colonialisms, a haunting reminder of these nations' "glorious" pasts.

Hence, the "Eastern question," much like the Jewish question of old, figures prominently among these ruling elites and the old colonial wars - Russia's current occupation of Chechnya being the exception - are still played out on the streets and everyone there knows it.

It can be seen in the curfew declared on Nov. 9 from a law passed in 1955 dealing with unrest related to the Algerian war, according to the New York Times. It wasn't used during the 1968 uprising, and that almost brought down the French government. It was in effect, however, when a massacre of Algerians in Paris occurred shortly before the end of the war in 1962.

Bosnia's bloodletting 10 years ago may be a portent of what is to come.

And it's precisely this reality that Muslim youths in Europe are aware of - the reality of their oppression. It's this reality that moved them to ignite the streets in fire and it's the reality Americans fool themselves into thinking doesn't exist here.

Ali Moosavi is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to The Arab American News.

 link to news.ncmonline.com
only arabs? 02.Dec.2005 12:34

classy

I have heard it is not true that it is only immagrants or arab youth who are the bulk of the rioters but instead there is a mix of races involved in the riots. the same mix that is found in these neighborhoods. what sources do you have other than the bourgeois press that these were predominately arab riots? The only pictures of police arrests i have seen online were of "white" youth. not to say i'm denying the large part it appears was played by immagrants.

bullshit 03.Dec.2005 07:34

no

""""""""""""three weeks of rioting, mostly by youths of African or Arab origin.""""""""""""""""":

how do you know?
were there?
what if the riots had been STAGED by psyops to further fascistization for france?

fascist motivations 03.Dec.2005 09:10

circle A

The results of the rioting have been similiar to the effects of 1968 to produce a result in government. It has been a repeated process in France because citizens, even those who are not desperate and alienated are relatively blocked from influencing the day to day workings of their government, as many of us are. I don't believe this was a psyopts project, the alienation of Arab and Muslim communities is on of the greatest issues fascing many of the European countries today, UK, Germany, Spain... France, this is a problem that has been systemic and worse since rise of "Terrorism". The emphasis by the "news" upon the demographics of those participating in the riots, I'm sure has been over emphasized with rascist biased, they have homogenized the the image of the actors in the riots, which is total bullshit. It is also to good to keep in mind these riots spreed, with many "copycats", so the locations and actors I'm sure varied as did the media coverage of those being arrested.

On that note France lacks, to the extent of the US, the coercive appartus to that of the United States where the insitutions have learned to inforce more of the vitimless banal crimes assosiated with poverty, alienation, and often youth. Look at Prison demographics in the US, full of predominantly poor and young people, people that present an actual threat to a status quo. (Like with Watts and recently in France)