Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blog overdrive: Sure, if you want to get reasonable...

Then let's talk about the thesis that there's no real link to Islamism in the Paris riots.

First of all, I've noted analyses like that of J.S. at the Beeb, which essentially blame racism and the Right for the Paris riots. The trouble is that Simpson said, tellingly, that if Chirac had been pro the Iraq war he'd be in even worse trouble now. Sounds suspiciously like when the Left are on the offensive on this they are prepared to admit there's a link to Islamic concerns.

Adloyada has a clever and personal take on this idea. Of course I see her point, just as I would acknowledge that the poisonous and anti-intellectual environment typical of many British schools may have grounded the London bombers in their sense of grievance (been there, didn't get no t-shirt). One would, however, hope that the guys she dated in the sixties are grown up enough now not to let their children's generation, ahem, run riot.

I also take the point that we have overblown our responses to the Paris events, somewhat- a thesis advanced by Clive Watkins and Patrick Belton, among others.

Yet I have some serious issues with an analysis which sees the riots as without an Islamic foundation. Yes, that seems strong, but I think reasonable.

One reason is that when people call the riots the 'intifada', the comparison is not so silly. When the BBC and others interview Palestinians what they get is not Islamist rhetoric but basically social sob stories. Thus what the kids on the street say and what they mean by what they are doing may- indeed must- be quite different, just as many Palestinians say publicly they are humiliated and privately that Israel has no right to exist and should be wiped off the map (not tring to say that what they say doesn't matter, just that the great rush to believe simple motives underlie violent acts is highly suspect).

Another is the extent of the riots, and their targeting of a great media-attention grabbing tactic- that of burning cars (more of them, progressively, every night, thereby getting the best dissemination in the media). One can't help noticing how good these look on tv or in photos, or that so few people have actually died in the rioting (one, I believe so far). The media, as it is for the palestinians and for the Iraqi terror groups, is the chief target- but horses for courses, here it's cars and not people that are gone for. It's noticeable how they've found a statistically impressive yet accessible target- so we can do the 'car bodywork count' in Paris as we have in Iraq.

Returning to the extent of the riots, it's difficult to believe that there is no coordination in such a wildfire spread of disorder. For one thing there have been reports of at least one cocktail bomb factory being found. Was there no coordination in 1968, I wonder? There may be mullahs on the streets preaching calm, but that only shows that they have some influence, or that they have an audience, thus disproving the non-islamic thesis. If the riots are only half muslim, then presumably we could send a liberal priest out preaching in the same areas with similar security? Furthermore, what we are hearing then is the official muslim response- whereas we know that was is significant is the grassroots muslim one. The recent history of these areas suggests, that with anti-Jewish behaviour and Islamofascist comedians, the youth are highly politicised and savvy.

Finally, there is the political nature of what is going on, and the targeting of the only effective right-winger, Sarkozy, which uncle Tom Cobbly has even reported. Such reports often emphasise that Sarkozy is to blame for his 'rhetoric' and heavy handedness- but that is to agree with the pre-existing grievances of the rioters. These are political, and we know that Islam is a very political religion. It may not be about to try a takeover in France, but it is certainly manoeuvering for more power and influence, and one can see these riots very much as part of that process (putting the iron glove over the demographic fist). To suggest that they are really about the kids is nonsense, I believe.

Enough- all I will say in conclusion is that the anti-hype dismissals of some of the blogosphere's loftier voices strike me as mere cant, whereas those who identify the Islamic fundamentals as present in this situation really seem to cover all the angles (not dissavowing social context, but including it as part of something wider). Thus it is they who really seem to be calling un chat un chat.

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