Saturday, November 12, 2005

Mind blowing interpretation

Much as I respect people who actually go into areas and get close to the people who are at the centre of news stories like the French riots (which revived a little last night as upwards of 500 cars were torched)- Patrick Belton of Oxblog's reports are more than a bit surreal. This one, for example- an except from an email to a friend- states that

'There's nothing religious at all to the riots; these aren't kids who reference religion at all, except to claim to you (possibly with some exercise of imagination) that they have friends in Guantanamo, and they might perhaps add Israel, Jews, and Sharon to France, Sarkozy, the police, and other people whose names in their drunken, possibly drugged, and excited invocations follow after the French equivalent of 'Fuck'.'

I mean, really, we can have different interpretations of data, but the prevalence of Israel, Sharon and Guantamo in their imprecations suggests the kind of mental profile which would dovetail perfectly with any Osama Bin laden broadcast! Add in the fact that youths use the slogans they use partly with the listeners in mind (ie. they choose slogans they think have the widest possible resonance, rather than ones reflecting the esoteric preoccupations of their cohorts), and I see absolutely no reason to conclude there is no religious dimension to the riots- the opposite, in fact.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Went looking for a post and found history

Of course there's always a debate about when history becomes history. Traditionalist though I am, I think history's a present perfect subject- therefore history is what brings us up to now. That's what makes the present so interesting; the fact that events now may be as life-shaping, indeed, must be as life shaping, as events 'then'- whenever that was.

That's why the riots in France (which I assume to be waning) have fascinated me. People have said that riots are part of the culture in France, which may be so, but when people draw comparisons with 1968 trying to reassure, what they forget is that those events actually heralded a new political era in France. The events of 1968 were different in that they involved what we would call traditional protest methods which turned ugly (probably designedly so on the part of the rioters). Still, they indicated profound change. Profound. Change.

More pertinent, perhaps, might be a comparison with Kristallnacht- at least in terms of violent destruction. What's missing in the efforts of the banlieues today, of course, is the really personal, racial and murderous dimension. But I remember being taught about Kristallnacht and being shocked, not by the violence, but by the fact that many people appeared not to realise what it portended. I remember thinking that people don't go around wrecking in that way without having some major intentions behind their actions.

Well, as Adloyada pointed out, we've just passed the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

but she also points out something important, an altogether different type of public protest which, almost incredibly, but somehow predictably, seems to be totally absent from the BBC's pages- a reported 150,000 person march against Al Qaeda in Morocco. In other words, muslims against terrorism- a movement for which we've been waiting and waiting. Adloyada also points out the background to this, which makes it seem a well-founded movement. I noted recently that the laws France has recoursed to were introduced to deal with events outside 'mainland France'- a euphemism for their Empire. Well, Morocco, away along the coast from Algeria where the laws had their baptism, has had things a little more peaceful than Paris just recently.

I find this event incredibly hopeful, even if it is a march with narrow self-interest at its heart (since it's a march inspired by Al Qaeda's expressed intention to kill two Moroccan nationals held by them in Iraq); even if it was a Government blessed event. It's my hope that as radical Islam spread its wings and tries to effectively strong-arm its way onto the political high-table, it will attentuate, losing its mass in areas it considers historical strongholds (eg. Iraq) and finally be snuffed out where it tries its hand at some old-fashioned Caliph-style action. Morocco may have tended to be among the more liberal arab nations, but still, the signs of popular anti-terror feelings are the kind of positive signs it's difficult to detect anywhere in western Europe right now. I might be tempted to say 'about time too'- but you can't say that to history.

Just to make a final point- one reason I care about history is that, though I have no kids of my own yet, I have nieces and nephews (two of each- all delightful, all too rarely seen). I will also (God willing- at 29) live a while yet myself. Mark Steyn makes broadly this point in his latest deeply appealing effort for the Spectator- the personal dimension I mean- and so does a new fave of mine, Tom Tyler on his blog (I will link this blog permanently. I will. I will- and half a dozen others I've taken a shine to). Come to think of it, without the family dimension- the future dimension that only a family can secure-, Adloyada wouldn't be writing her thoughtful and historically sensitive posts for me to make use of.

Btw- an aside. Natalie's biographer was right about something in particular re: yours truly. Can you guess what it is? Eh, Mark? No, actually, seriously, I am not worthy. yet.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In search of balance concerning the French riots, I found this excellent analysis/summary from Donald Sensing.

After the voices of reason have spoken...

to tell us that the riots in France (the analysis of Steven Den Beste- the best of an uninspiring bunch) are/were the product of (that ever satisfying) combination of factors- rather than having any obvious source (which might require painful or controversial action) it's useful (as in a chess match when the opponent blocks a sequence of moves) to step back and try a new approach.

Thus I found it a help to be reminded by The Adventuress about the Danish riots which have been occurring at the same time as the French ones. Here, one must agree, Islam is the cause of the unrest (unless one likes blaming innocuous cartoonists. I was, however, reminded of this award winner, and it makes an interesting contrast). I also thoroughly agree with her analysis of the French riots- their essentially psychological intent, or as Irene puts it, 'training for dhimmis'. Listening to some of the 'voices of reason' out there you'd think that such a idea as 'collective consciousness' had never been developed (which is not even to go near the obvious whiff of orchestration in the grubby banlieues)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Naturally I don't wish to stir the pot...

But while we're talking about Islamist violence, this is a great article by Christopher Hitchens about Darfur. I've kept my trap shut about this for many months, fearing I had overinterpreted the role of Islamists. It seemed and seems clear to me that blacks in Africa were used by Islam as slaves, and that unlike in the West such activities have never really been recanted. In this context, 'ethnic cleansing' has a different context to the generally imagined one here in the West (which is only suggesting the legacy of the slaver mentality- not ignoring, of course, the reality of slavery's existence to this day). Reading Hitchens' I was ashamed to have been ashamed- despite the fact that my post well over a year ago is a fave from the Google archive which often brings web surfers here.

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.

Irony-eating surrender monkeys

Let me begin by bashing the liberal media, the US one, at that. But, ok, let me back up for a moment: I was stood-up recently by an American lady journalist(very pretty and very liberal, a radio journalist perhaps because she was't, quite, that pretty). We met on a train and she promised to visit me, took my address etc after we'd had a long conversation over the noise of the rickety train we were on, and then failed completely to get in touch, even to say she'd changed her mind about coming.

But anyway, I'm not bitter. It's just that reading this article (Via Tim Blair , with reg. required but v., v. easy) made me think again about my observations about er, 'my' young lady- that beneath the superficial worldiness there may have been a lack of confidence about the world around her. The writer of the article in question was writing 'from London about Paris', and said confidently- among other observations such as “The Paris riots are actually a splendid demonstration of the successful integration of immigrants into French culture ...” - that 'About half the kids burning cars and buildings are white, working-class, post-Christian French, and they get along with the black and Muslim kids just fine.'

The first line I could accept- in a satire; I'd call it classic British irony. The second really smacks of having been written (no, not 'on smack'), but in London- and a nice part, at that. Some of the banlieues worst affected don't have many white kids in to riot. Even if the riots happened in Finsbury Park, London, I wouldn't be caught saying the racial ratios are fairly reassuring, because there too white faces are more notable by their absence than their presence. 'Half-white riots' in such an area would be almost impossible from any point of view. Whatever- if I were to make a suggestion to the US media to improve their worldwide credibility it would be not to pretend that London is like Paris, or that you can call an eyewitness account credible when it is from another country, even one not so many miles away. It's a bit like the 'eyewitness accounts' from the Baghdad hotel bar which have been misinforming us so regularly for the last several years.

Meanwhile, also in the news but belonging to the Private Eye end of the news, the zeropeans are sending a probe to Venus (no, not 'into', thankfully). Having found Mars all too hard and masculine, they've apparently decided that Venus is a much more soft and consensual target. They probably expect to find more zeropeans there, too- which could come in handy to reverse the arabisation of Europe.

Meanwhile, John Simpson makes understanding the BBC's position (which has been mixed enough to create confusion) nice and clear. The BBC's World Affairs editor says

'Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, now seems to be playing politics with the situation by appealing to the most basic and resentful attitudes of conservative France.'

Simpson also blames the French system for its neglect of the immigrant 'burbs, yet for most of the period he cites (30 years) it had leftist politicians like Mitterand in charge, and Chirac is hardly of the robust right. Now suddenly Sarkozy's at fault (not a mention of France's generous social welfare system, the French model etc), when he hasn't even had a serious bite at the governing cherry. Just who is playing politics, mr Simpson? France, if it is a failure, is a leftist failure- the leftists who triumphed in 1968. Simpson is not trying to explain history but to cover it up, to whitewash. Nice Snow job, mr Simpson.

(of course, that's not to mention the sly and unreasonable introduction of the Iraq conflict, trying to head off the critique that Chirac's Iraq policy has brought no domestic dividends- a very workable proposition, unlike the one that his criticisms of the US and UK have been 'thoroughly borne out')

When Algeria comes to France (1,117- not bad for a monday night):

According to the Beeb:

'Mr de Villepin said the curfews would be imposed under a 1955 law which allows a state of emergency to be declared in all or parts of France.

The law was originally passed to combat violence in Algeria in its war of independence against France from 1954-1962.'

Monday, November 07, 2005

When one feels like pillaging the Guardian...

This Viking does, anyway. He points out one of the most awful misuses of inverted commas seen anywhere, and much else which merits the thorough utilisation of his email links to the Guardian editorial team.

Needless to say, I don't read the Guardian, or I wouldn't have any blood left to boil. I remember years ago my Dad bought it for a month or two, 'as an experiment'- and even then I wondered why he had a newspaper that evaded commonsense and distorted the relatively simple into some hodge-podge of sentimental pink-tinged porridge.

The viking also notes that Sarkozy is the target of the Left. Some coincidence there, since he's also the target of the intifadists- yes, it's probably time the word was 'bandied round' after the authorities came across an unusual cocktail factory. In fact, as one of the 'boys' and 'girls' the BBC highlights says,

'We want Mr Sarkozy to resign, or the violence will continue. He is too scared to come here and talk to us himself. We don't think we'll ever get jobs'

So, the rioters want Sarkozy to resign, as do his rivals Chirac and Vilepin, as do the Guardian (clearly)- and the BBC weren't too shy about booting it to Sarko (a bit) at the beginning of events:

'Nicolas Sarkozy - the straight-talking right-winger who is France's interior minister - normally thrives on the kind of acute law-and-order crisis that the country is currently going through.'

Which leaves me thinking that for perhaps the first time in my life I have come across a French politician I have some admiration for. I think that there is strategy to these revolts in Paris, and that they represent the conviction among the Islamic underground of French society (which must almost certainly be huge) that Sarkozy is the kind of man who could prevent their plans from unfolding, and must be removed. I think they're right: he seems to have the vigour and grit of a man who will stay on top unless treachery brings him down.

I know I often bash France, but I wish them well on this- and, especially, I wish Sarkozy well, and I note that France does too. I know that Britain is far from robust and invulnerable to Islamic pressure. Far, far from it. If France is spineless now and over the ensuing years, I must say I have little confidence that Britain's won't buckle in some terrible way.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Refreshingly Rumsfeld. Not only refreshing, but apparently refreshed: Don Rumsfeld has some classic things to say to Europeans via a Spiegel interview-

''You've got the lead. Well, lead!
SPIEGEL: You mean the Europeans.
Rumsfeld: Sure. My Goodness, Iran is your neighbour. We don't have to do everything!
SPIEGEL: We are in the middle of regime change in Germany...
Rumsfeld: ... that's hardly the phrase I would have selected.'

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