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Monday, November 07, 2005

France And The Death Of Civic Virtue

According to this MSNBC article, cars were burned around the main train station in Brussels. In France, they say that almost 274 towns have been affected by the violence:
Attacks overnight Sunday to Monday were reported in 274 towns, and police made 395 arrests, Gaudin said.
It was the first time police had been injured by weapons’ fire and there were signs that rioters were deliberately seeking out clashes with police, officials said.

Among the injured police, 10 were hurt by youths firing fine-grain birdshot in a late-night clash in the southern Paris suburb of Grigny, national police spokesman Patrick Hamon said. Two were hospitalized, but the injuries were not considered life-threatening. One was wounded in the neck, the other in the legs.
Pretty bad, but I bet it's going to get worse. Yesterday the French authorities were still saying that they didn't want to be provocative. Today even Chirac is taking a tougher stance. A man was beaten to death when he went out of his apartment building to douse a fire set in a trashcan:
Alain Rahmouni, a national police spokesman, said the man who was beaten died at a hospital from injuries sustained in the attack, but he had no immediate details of the victim’s age or his attacker. The man was caught by surprise by an attacker after rushing out of his apartment building to put out a trash can fire, Rahmouni said.
That's rather frightening. Like Howard, I think that leaving these people defenseless is not good public policy. If the French government can't enforce order on the streets, it needs to let its citizens defend themselves.

I don't believe that the problem is Islam. It's plain old-fashioned criminals and thugs who have not been stopped, have grown bolder and bolder and are now seeking to clear the streets so that they have free rein. Theodore Dalrymple wrote of the rampant crime in France years ago. Read his description of France in 2002 at City Journal:
For the last couple of years, though, it has been crime: l’insécurité, les violences urbaines, les incivilités. Everyone has a tale to tell, and no dinner party is complete without a horrifying story. Every crime, one senses, means a vote for Le Pen or whoever replaces him.

I first saw l’insécurité for myself about eight months ago. It was just off the Boulevard Saint-Germain, in a neighborhood where a tolerably spacious apartment would cost $1 million. Three youths—Rumanians—were attempting quite openly to break into a parking meter with large screwdrivers to steal the coins. It was four o’clock in the afternoon; the sidewalks were crowded, and the nearby cafés were full. The youths behaved as if they were simply pursuing a normal and legitimate activity, with nothing to fear.

Eventually, two women in their sixties told them to stop. The youths, laughing until then, turned murderously angry, insulted the women, and brandished their screwdrivers. The women retreated, and the youths resumed their “work.”

A man of about 70 then told them to stop. They berated him still more threateningly, one of them holding a screwdriver as if to stab him in the stomach.
The laxisme of the French criminal justice system is now notorious. Judges often make remarks indicating their sympathy for the criminals they are trying (based upon the usual generalizations about how society, not the criminal, is to blame); and the day before I witnessed the scene on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, 8,000 police had marched to protest the release from prison on bail of an infamous career armed robber and suspected murderer before his trial for yet another armed robbery, in the course of which he shot someone in the head. Out on bail before this trial, he then burgled a house. Surprised by the police, he and his accomplices shot two of them dead and seriously wounded a third. He was also under strong suspicion of having committed a quadruple murder a few days previously, in which a couple who owned a restaurant, and two of their employees, were shot dead in front of the owners’ nine-year-old daughter.
It is the private complaint of everyone, however, that the police have become impotent to suppress and detect crime. Horror stories abound. A Parisian acquaintance told me how one recent evening he had seen two criminals attack a car in which a woman was waiting for her husband. They smashed her side window and tried to grab her purse, but she resisted. My acquaintance went to her aid and managed to pin down one of the assailants, the other running off. Fortunately, some police passed by, but to my acquaintance’s dismay let the assailant go, giving him only a warning.

My acquaintance said to the police that he would make a complaint. The senior among them advised him against wasting his time.
As for the police, he added, they did not want to make an arrest in a case like this. There would be too much paperwork. And even if the case came to court, the judge would give no proper punishment. Moreover, such an arrest would retard their careers. The local police chiefs were paid by results—by the crime rates in their areas of jurisdiction. The last thing they wanted was for policemen to go around finding and recording crime.
So that's the environment that has spawned this lawlessness. France needs Rudy Giuliani, and what it has is a political scene dominated by spineless leftism. Like Dalrymple, I think it is significant that only the older people tried to stop a theft being committed in broad daylight in full view of the public.

"I don't believe that the problem is Islam. "

It is a combo of a lot of things. Most importantly is the lack of French action when the riots first started. The fact that they are first calling for a curfew today is an embarrassement.
It definitely is.
They have put themselves in a corner, claiming the high ground in being able to resolve these things without violence. Of course, they are at a loss in how to deal with this since there is no money to be made.
I don't know if France needs Rudy- it may be too late. That said, Norman Schwarztkopf would no doubt leave an impression.
Norman Schwarzkopf has more sense than to get involved.... Good one, though.

Tommy, they are in a very tight corner and it's getting tighter all the time. What's needed is a change of mindset.
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