Saturday, November 05, 2005

Please assimilate your immigrants

The block is hot in Paris.

After the "accidental" electrocution of two teenage immigrants while fleeing police, the seething rage of the African and Arab communities exploded into a series of fires and riots that has just entered its second week.

The fuel for these riots happens to be the same fuel that causes this situation in America. Alienated North African and Arab expatriates and first generation children, isolated in their neighborhoods by unemployment, poverty and crime (the omnipresent minority trinity) finally found the excuse to express their displeasure, so to speak.

The suburbs, which are often thought of as an American place for the rich to flee urban life, work a little differently in Paris, as they keep these naturalized ethnic minorities on the fringes and out of focus.

These same idle first-generation citizens the ones who pick up the deadly hobby of terrorist enthusiasm. Al Qaida doesn't even need to recruit anymore. The disillusioned flock to create their own junior varsity terrorist groups. The most recent suicide attacks in Bali and London were the result of people native to those countries who had no official ties to Al Qaida.

That's not good. What makes a middle class citizen bomb his native country?

Several months ago I saw a pair of the Northern African women in the early 20's walking along a fairly crowded street in Paris who threw their trash, a soda can and a wrapper, on the city street with immense disdain. The pedestrians who were closer and saw this commented briefly and shook their heads. These two women had the nerve to respond angrily to the complaints about their littering. I couldn't help the undeniable wave of racism and ill will I felt for these two women. Who were these two immigrants to liter the beautiful streets of Paris (the city is quite beautiful, not to mention clean) and if they disliked it so much, then why where they there? And if I hated them this much, in that instant, what the hell were the white people thinking? It couldn't be anything particularly pleasant.

Looking at this riot I couldn't help but wonder, in retrospect, if some their disrespect for the city was due to how disconnected they feel from the promised yet unrealized ideal of inclusion that festers throughout most of Europe.

Bullshit liberal symbolism?

Possibly, but still worth a thought.


  1. You're talking about "immigrants", but the large majority of those who burnt cars and are expressing anger are very young (14 to 20) and not "immirgrants", but French youth with immigrants parents or grand-parents. If you call them immigrants, you fall in the trap racists want you to fall into.

  2. I misspoke when I called the actual teenagers immigrants, but the result of this situation is due to the failed assimilation of the initial immigrants parents and their naturalized first generation children.