THE SPINE NOVEMBER 27, 2007
There are two articles of particular interest at the New York Times on-line at the moment of this writing, about 12:30 pam., Wednesday, November 28. One article is by Ariane Bernard, and it was posted mid-afternoon. The other, very up-to--date, was written by the veteran and seasoned journalist Elaine Sciolino. The headline on Sciolino's piece is "In French Suburbs, Same Rage, but New Tactics." The sub-head tells you a bit more: "A chilling new factor makes the recent violence in France more menacing: the rioters have taken up hunting shotguns and turned then on the police." More menacing, indeed.I assume that both Beinhold and Sciolino know who the rioters are and would be eager, in the circumstances, to tell their readers. But the Times editors are clearly in denial -- not, by the way, to themselves. But to deny their readers the truth. (Sort of, but not quite, like refusing to tell the truth about suicide bombers, that they are, yes, heaven forbid, "terrorists," another curb on free speech which the Times is usually eager to defend.) Anyway, as all of my readers know, the rioters on the outskirts of Paris are young Muslims. (They are not rioting because of what the Israelis are doing or not doing to the Palestinians.) They are rioting against France and the French who had the temerity to expect that immigrants come to a country to live the lives of those who receive them. France did not do this as graciously as it might have. But that was the implicit deal. Alas, it did not have the courage of its assumptions.There are many French residents who accepted the transaction, like the Vietnamese and the Cambodians, and they were citizens from the start. Like the Arabs and Muslims who eagerly accepted the part of the bargain that affords them the right to go unemployed. This is a crisis for France and for much of western Europe. People come and want to live the lives they lived at home, but under the costly subventions of social democracy. This certainly is not the case in the U.S. But the subventions are less generous here.No contemporary political theorist in America has touched this subject in depth, and the subject is the right of the receiver country -- its cultures and communities -- to set explicit expectation for new arrivals. Oh, yes, Bruce Ackerman has in his Social Justice in the Liberal State. Also, Michael Walzer in a book the title of which I cannot recall. It's too late in the night to call Michael to ask. And, if I'm not mistaken, he's in China right now.P.S.: I know you'll laugh. There is a very smart post by Abe Greenwald at "The Cabal" blog of the very smart web-site Jewcy listing some of the publications and news agencies afraid to tell the truth about what's going on in France. Greenwald also has an explanation for this cowardice.