First Posted: 1/15/2009
We wish it were our line but will have to give credit to Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who, while commenting on the violence in France, observed, “The French aren't even willing to defend themselves.''
Incredibly, after seeing 13 days of rioting in more than 300 towns, Jacques Chirac, the president of France, has yet to call out the military to end the violence. In the meantime, thousands of young people of Arab and African descent, mainly Muslims, have been torching the landscape. Their targets are mostly cars - symbols of a society that they feel shuns them - but they are taking down the occasional building. Estimates are as many as 50,000 vehicles have been destroyed. Thankfully, only one death has been reported.
Chirac on Tuesday did awake from his coma long enough to declare a state of emergency, which enables curfews to be imposed in the affected cities and towns. But for whatever reason, he has been steadfast in his refusal to summon the military.
The violence erupted Oct. 27 in a northeast Paris suburb where mobs gathered after the accidental deaths of two teenagers, of Mauritanian and Tunisian descent, who were electrocuted while hiding from police in a power substation. It has steadily escalated since then into an full-fledged insurgency.
Although the youths are mostly Muslim, it's important to understand that this isn't a jihad aimed at the West and directed by fanatical Islamists. Instead, these youths - immigrants, but French citizens - are upset by the racial discrimination in the country that basically relegates them to second-class citizens. Although benefactors of France's socialist system, they are also victims of the resulting economy, which is stagnant and not producing jobs that they need to busy themselves.
This institutionalized discrimination and the economy are problems that will be long time in solving. But in the meantime, Chirac owes his countrymen every effort to return tranquility to the streets.
The French are finding out that socialism and pacifism, while noble concepts, simply don't work in today's world.