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Altough worried about the British numbers.  This is a real eye-opener.  My view from England was that despite the odd race flare-up we are pretty well integrated, whereas in France the whole thing seemed to have imploded with all the rioting and car-burning last year.

Looks like I was wrong.

I wonder then what the "muslim" rioting in France was about?  Was it more an anti-police sentiment?  I know that this exists.


That which does not kill us makes us ill and bad-tempered

by ignatz uk on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 01:38:27 PM EST
Right, I was thinking someone should tell those kids about this poll so they can get with the program.  Unless that whole riot thing was just staged by the anti-French media.  </snark>

Ok, I seriously do know that there is an anti-French bias in the media, and you know, I'm a francophile myself, but it's getting a little boring blaming all France's problems on media vendettas...

I'd also like to point out that integration is not synonymous with equal treatment, as any African American can tell you.  This poll was helpfull, but it may be even more helpfull to survey the non-Muslim/Arab French population about if they think the Muslim/Arab French population has integrated well, and if they seem as French first or Muslim or Arab first.

And lastly I will add that if France is feeling unfairly singled out by otherwise liberal folks like me, it is a case of higher expectations.  Plus, the success of France is the success of everthing France stands for, values shared by liberals everywhere.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:00:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tried to follow those upheavals as closely as I could from a distance. It seemed to me that economic issues, e.g. lack of employment opportunities, were probably a bigger factor than those of culture and religious ideology.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But are the economic factors results of their ethnicity or religion?  Results of not being white and French born?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:20:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are certainly people who have made such allegations. I've never seen any efforts to go out and try to do an in depth analysis of exactly who was doing the rioting, their backgrounds and their psychological profiles. While that information would be decidedly interesting, I somehow imagine that researchers would have some difficulty in locating "qualified" interview subjects. What I have seen is people in the media and on talk boards making broad sweeping generalizations about their backgrounds and motivations based on little more than the particular political axe that the particular pundit had to grind.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:27:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The poll is precisely about what the French Muslims think and/or how they see themselves/their integration, in some instance compared to what the general population thinks on such topic, so it should respond to that particulat objectionc.

The riots were about youth, youth unemployment (or precarious employment) and the fact that society does not seem to trust them much. It had little to do with being Muslim or Arab.

Nobody is denying the riots, or denying that there are problems in France. It's just that the constant pounding, especially when it's false, gets tiresome at times.

But your comment about higher expectations is well taken.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:09:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Were non-Muslim or Arab kids rioting?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:21:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who's got the arrest stats handy? A good proportion of those arrested were not of foreign origin at all as I recall.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:50:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The arrest stats likely have some correlation with an inability to run fast.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 03:00:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arrested people were surprisingly normal (in school around average, or working) IIRC reading newspapers articles on the ones presented before the judges (cannot find a link sorry). Probably people not used to hide efficiently from the police as you say :).
by Laurent GUERBY on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:07:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I posted a diary a while back with arrest statistics (which means that probably inflates the dark factor):

  • one third were North African
  • one third were (black) African
  • one third were white

With the following points, again:

  • being North African in France does not make you a practising Muslim
  • the riots were not motivated by religious or ethic reasons in any way, there were about economic alienation
  • it is not surprising to see recent immigrants on the lowest economic rungs


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 03:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, I don't want to make this the thread that never dies, and I'm not trying to be difficult just because it's fun.  But, as an American, speaking from experience and observation, I really cannot see how one can so easily differentiate between class and race.  Racism is bad because it is wrong to judge people on their color or heritage but it is not just a theoretical or ideological problem. It is primarily an economic problem.  What kinds of injustices result from racism?  Inadequate access to education resulting in inadequate access to jobs, esp good paying jobs resulting in not having much money resulting in not having very good representation in government to fight for better access to education, jobs, representation....  Right?  

Look at the immigration issue in America.  People don't want the Mexicans out because they are Catholic or dark skinned.  They want them out because they think they are taking jobs.  Mexicans don't come here because they want a change of scenery, they come here because they want jobs.  

You say: "the riots were not motivated by religious or ethic reasons in any way, there were about economic alienation"

I'm asking: what was this economic alienation a result of?  

(BTW, I'm not really proposing this has anything to do with them being Muslim.  I agree that's neither here nor there...)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:23:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's never as simple as racism or economic disadvantage. I would not hesitate to say that the US a problem with racism and being on the receiving end of racial descrimination is an economic disadvantage. However, it doesn't do a great deal to explain why some people riot and other people don't. African Americans have been involved in some rather dramatic riots on ocassion. They certainly have been victims of racial descrimination. However, Mexican Americans and Asian Americans have been the receipients of essentially about as much descrimination and I don't recall an instance of their engaging in riots.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:48:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No rioting, but some massive, massive, demonsrations.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:51:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a big difference between peaceful protest and setting fire to stuff.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:54:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but what does this have to do with the topic we are discussing?  You lost me.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 10:06:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference in the way that people who have all suffered the economic and psychological impact of racial discrimination deal with their grievances. You seem to be trying to establish racial discrimination as the cause of the riots in France. I am pointing to the US experience to demonstrate the difficulty is establishing such a cause and effect relationship.

I don't think there are very many people who would try to claim that there are no problems with racism in France. The question is whether that caused the riots. While I'm sure that it has some relation to events, it doesn't appear to be that simple.

by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 10:14:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is whether the alienation is permanent (and caused by their being Muslim), or is linked to the fact that they are simply the last wave of immigrants and will have been absorbed in a couple of generations, just like the Poles, the Italians and the Portuguese, to name only a few, have.

History, and the data in this diary, suggests it's temporary. Waronterra politicians like to promote the idea that there's something substantially wrong with Muslims. I know which I believe.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 01:42:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
they are simply the last wave of immigrants and will have been absorbed in a couple of generations, just like the Poles, the Italians and the Portuguese, to name only a few, have.

How did those Poles, Italians, Portugese, etc. get absorbed into French society?  I would guess it would be through the gradual evolution of their French language ability, cultural values, knowledge of the French educational, political, and economic system, etc.

It will be interesting to see how this dynamic happens among immigrant families from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and the Carribeans, as well as from Indochina, China, and southeast Asia.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 09:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing that Le Canard Enchainé loves to do one in a while is unearth old newspaper articles from the 30s or other periods which show the same kind of hate for Poles as we see today for Arabs in the hard right discourse. Some language similarities are fascinating, in particular things like "they are religious fanatics, they refuse to become secular", "they are a lot more different from us this time than previous immigrants", "they stick to their own and don't want to integrate" beyond the usual they steal our jobs, our wealth, etc...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 09:04:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is probably unavoidable that we look at the situation of other people through the prism of out own experiences. The American experience with immigration was that race was a major factor in the ability of people to successfully integrate. In the late 19th C there was significant prejudice against the later European immigrants such as Poles, Eastern Jews, Italians, etc. similar to what you are describing in France during the 1930s. However, this did not prove to be a permanent situation and these groups became assimilated in a generation or two.

The situation was very different for Africans, Asians and aboriginal Americans. They were excluded from assimilation and it took the major social upheavals of the 1950-60s to begin to change the situation. The question that come to my mind about the situation of people from Africa in France is how much the perception of racial difference may be a factor. Are they simply regarded as foreigners who need to learn French culture or are they regarded as inherently alter? I don't claim to know the answer, but I'd be interested in knowing what people in France think about this.

by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 10:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the issue of class and race in America (and personally I think the insights of this study can be extended to cover other countries) a book well worth looking at is Promises I Can Keep by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas. It's the report of a long study of poor women in Philadelphia and Camden, NJ, from African-American, Hispanic, and white backgrounds. The authors don't appeal to the concept of class to explain their findings, but they show a surprising amount of similarity of experience in terms of economic, family, and social difficulties, that lead to the conclusion that race (and negative discrimination on racial grounds) is not the principal factor involved -- that being part of an uneducated underclass is the main obstacle.

I'm not pointing to this to say racism 1) does not exist 2) has no economic consequences. Neither am I saying the French car-torchers do not suffer from racism, and that it is not one of the causes of their economic and social alienation. (In a comment above, I specifically mentioned it as a contributory cause, and it's a fact that Arabs in particular are subjected to discrimination in the job and housing markets). But what probably most united the youth, Arab, black, and white, was the fact of belonging to an underclass with poor economic prospects, and identification with the suburban zones they are parked in (street gangs in the cités are organized on the basis of the cité you belong to, not on your colour).

These kids were "French" in the sense, born in France. Those under 18 wouldn't yet have "confirmed their choice" of French nationality. I think that's an aggravating factor. The right-wingers that changed the law on nationality were short-sighted. (It's in France's interest to integrate immigrants and in particular, obviously, their children). The rioting kids must surely feel (this is my take, I've no evidence to point to) a certain amount of insecurity re nationality that must make them more sensitive yet to the general insecurity of their situation.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 02:25:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am very interested in explanations of social problems that determine the main causes of such problems to be economic and/or political policy.  Because policy, while hard to change, strikes me as being much easer -- certainly much more within our control as a society -- to change than entrenched social attitudes, culture, perceptions, prejudices, etc.

So if there is an explanation of why ethnic minorities are dispropotionately represented in prisons, crime statistics, poverty statistics, etc. that can be traced back to (relatively) changeable policy -- policy that generates and keeps in place a "uneducated underclass" -- rather than to fairly entrenched social attitudes, culture, etc., then I am very curious to explore that, especially if it can explain any differences among various groups in this underclass as mentioned by Richard above.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 08:41:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Robert Pape's theory about the strategic logic of suicide bombing is another theory that traces the most significant factors behind a very complex issue to matters of social policy, and for this reason I am hoping that he is right.

For if this theory is (for the most part) correct, then we can dramatically reduce suicide terrorism by changes in policy.  In particular, we don't have to try converting large numbers of terrorists from their extremist and violent interpretation of Islam, much less destroying them altogether -- both obviously much harder (and morally dubious) tasks than altering our political policies.

Having said this, I have my doubts that Pape's thesis can fully exlain the British terrorists of Pakistani descent who kill British civilians.  How could it?  Because these British terrorists identify with Iraqis and Palestinians through the ummah and thus can vicariously claim Palestine and Iraq as their "homeland" (and thus the British and Americans as occupiers of their "homeland"?)

This seems plausible to me, but it seems rather more tenuous.  I've actually written to Pape to ask him specifically about this point, but he told me to read his book and see his comments following the latest terror plot bust.  So far, however, I have not found anything that specifically addresses this particular issue.

Could it be that some people -- even though they are economically relatively comfortable and fairly well educated -- feel so alienated from the society they live in that they turn to a radicalized, violent interpretation of their religion to find meaning in their lives?

Reading the numbers about British Muslims in this Pew report was pretty depressing on this point.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 08:47:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Societies codify their culture and attitudes into policy in the form of laws and the two become closely linked. When pressure for change begins to build both things have to change. In the US racism was fully enshrined in law up until the 1950's. The attitude of some people started to change and they pushed for changes in the law. As new laws were passed and enforced other people were pressured to change their attitudes. I do not think it is a matter of culture OR policy. One does not exist independent of the other.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 10:31:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what specific policy changes would help eliminate the uneducated underclasss that afew was talking about his comments.  But my point is that while racism -- both white on minority, as well as within and between minorities -- is not something you can try to directly eradicate in and of itself as policy, you can, through policy, try to arrange economic, social and political circumstances in an attempt to alleviate if not eliminate this underclass.

Thus, if -- as afew seems to be saying -- problems such as the overrepresentation of African-Americans in U.S. prisons or the overrepresentation of youths of African and Carribean descent in the French riots are not primarily due to racism, then that is a relatively hopeful situation.  For in that case, we do not have to undertake the gargantuan task of getting rid of racism head on, but can make significant changes through the relatively easier task of implementing policy changes.

I totally agree that culture does not exist independent of policy.  But law/policy and culture/attitudes do not march together in lockstep, nor of course are culture/attitudes monolithic across a region in which a policy/law is applicable.

Changes in law/policy, being something that is effected by a relatively tiny number of people, can be sought for much more easily than changes in culture/attitudes.  The change having made, if the law/policy is not compatible with culture/attitudes of a large enough portion of the population, those changes risk getting rolled back.  But if the law/policy is "culture-neutral", or at least is not disfavored by too large a portion of the population, then if the policy works, I believe it will remain in place, and may eventually contributed to changes in culture and attitudes (e.g. outlawing slavery in the south, though it took a while, has eventually led to the mainstream view there that blacks and whites must be treated equally.)

School vouchers are another example.  They are bitterly opposed and fervently opposed by different parts of the population.  But they have already been implemented as experiments in certain areas, and if they are found to "work", they may become more populat and become more popular, and more permanent.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 02:09:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I posted a diary a while back with arrest statistics (which means that probably inflates the dark factor):

  • one third were North African
  • one third were (black) African
  • one third were white

But this means that North Africans and (black) Africans who were arrested were quite overrepresented as compared to their proportions in the general population.

This reminds me of the situation in the U.S., where the percentage of African-Americans in jail compared to whites is much higher than the respective percentages in the general population.

While obviously a very touchy and controversial topic, in the U.S., one of the pat answers as to why this is the case is various forms of "racism", from your run of the mill sort to institutional racism to victimization mentality, and so on.

Can a similar dynamic be said to exist in France?

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 07:11:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

this means that North Africans and (black) Africans who were arrested were quite overrepresented as compared to their proportions in the general population.

Yes, but they were not overrepresented compared to their share of population in the lowest rungs of society, maybe.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 01:43:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They were actually quite representative of the population living in the "cités", the suburbs were the rioting took place: multi-ethnic, with a strong proportion of children of immigrant families from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and the Carribeans.

As Jerome, and other commenters (like me), explained at the time, the "Muslim riots" moniker used ad nauseam in the English language press was, at best, a diversion, just like calling the Iraqi nightmare the main front of the war on terror.

by Bernard on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:29:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just a touchy and controversial topic, it's complex (whatever country you look at). What explains the high proportion of African-Americans in jail? Institutional racism, and particularly police/justice racism, or poverty, more exactly belonging to a deprived and excluded underclass? Both are there. Both are there in France too -- certainly in terms of police racism, which "suburban" youth is especially subjected to.

But for the broader socio-economic picture, see my comment above about Promises I Can Keep.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:50:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we have some parallels between the upheavals in the French suburbs and the Katrina disaster in the US. People in distant places see images on TV of a large number of non-white people and assume that the problem is fundamentally one of racism. It's the kind of simple explanation that can be used for effective political impact. In both cases the reality and causes are far more complex.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 09:53:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In both cases the reality and causes are far more complex.

Absolutely.  Which is why I wrote that racism is "one of the pat answers".  Another possible factor is the culture of the minority experiencing racism (is this what you were alluding to in your comment above?  if not, apologies for the misinterpretation); another is the existence of an "uneducated underclass", raised by afew in his comment about Promises I Can Keep above.

Having said this, even though the reality and causes are clearly many and complex, it is quite possible that some factors are more significant than others.  I believe that racism -- along with a few others -- may be such a factor in the U.S.

I am not so sure about France, not being as familiar with France by a long shot.  But that is what I was inquiring about in my comment.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 08:08:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the reference to Promises I Can Keep.  I found an interview of the authors Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefelas on the Kojo Nnamdi show, so I will listen to this.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.
by marco on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 08:12:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Their specific focus is on young women, motherhood and marriage. But they show that socio-economic conditions, and cultural attitudes, are similar across ethnic lines.

To put it another way (my way, not that of the authors of Promises I Can Keep), African-Americans come up against racism probably rather more than Hispanics rather more than whites; but what takes precedence is a set of conditions and a set of behaviours proper to all three groups taken as a class, and a set of attitudes towards them in society at large that one might call "anti-poor racism" (which in turn, in a complex interplay, become internalised by the victim in the form of low personal expectations).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 03:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what takes precedence is a set of conditions and a set of behaviours proper to all three groups taken as a class, and a set of attitudes towards them in society at large that one might call "anti-poor racism"

I hope you are right.  Poverty is a condition which can be changed, but race... you can't do much about.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 07:06:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's getting a little boring blaming all France's problems on media vendettas...

Would you care to tell us who's doing that?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:15:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First of all you're right to put Muslim between quotes. The rioting was not specifically Muslim, had no religious roots or claims at all. Not all the youth involved was Muslim, even though a majority no doubt was -- but they were not kicking up because they were Muslim. It's no doubt a mix of economic problems -- under-qualification because of school problems, unemployment, poor prospects, plus the racism faced by many (the Pew Report doesn't say French Muslims consider there is no discrimination against them), and then above all the deliberate provocation by the Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy who called them scum. And, yes, a bad incident with police (there are plenty) and the opportunity to challenge the cops and win over several days.

So it's not that there's no problem in France with under-privileged youth in the cités, (the French equivalent of sink estates), there is. But what is so often said, that France has a "Muslim" problem, that it isn't integrating Muslims, that in fact (see the headscarf controversy) it doesn't have a clue, doesn't appear to be true.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:10:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
@Ig: want to trade your tag for some Zuccini and tomatoes.

I'll plant 10 acres.

You agree to deliver your side +-1 November, next year.

I'll deliver my side in consumer friendly baskets, shrink-wrapped if desired.

 

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 12:23:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Comparative advantage at work?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 02:29:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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