I feel like I really should write a post about the riots, since my American friends keep asking me about it. Sigh. Why is this the only kind of news about France that makes it into the US press?
Well, The word on the riots is that they are over . . . they only lasted a couple of days, but were a lot nastier than those in 2005. And like in 2005, they were in a distant suburb so they didn't have any impact on anyone who doesn't live there. One of the many sad things about it is that the people who got their cars burned and schools and shops destroyed are the struggling neighbors of the rioters. I didn't follow it all too closely, but it seems there is a huge amount of hate towards the police out there, a situation that has not been rectified since 2005. For some stupid reason, there are no beat cops who get to know the people in the hood and are familiar faces. Instead, the police cruise around in cars and stop people at random and demand their papers. I gotta say, even the police in Paris are not particularly approachable. You'd never ask them for directions. They travel in packs—there are always at least four or five of them—and they don’t give you the impression that they could give a good goddam where the Louvre is. I'll give them one thing though—their uniforms fit a lot better than those of US cops. Anyway, President Sarkozy seems to think the rioters were just a bunch of thugs, which could be partially true, but doesn't seem like a particularly constructive observation. But then, this is the guy who made the papers in 2005 by calling people scum. In the States, a politician who made a nasty comment about members of a minority group would be forced to apologize or resign—here, he gets elected president. So much for French multi-culturalism.
OK, now that I've totally depressed everyone, I'm going to move on to my next post on a completely frivolous subject.