Friday, November 30, 2007

It's a Riot!

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.


Anonymous said...

The french cop uniforms are kinda hot.

Starman said...

I believe that most French people knew that Sarkozy was speaking the truth when he called the rioters sum. Think about it. You live in a poor neighborhood and you're pissed at the police. Your neighbor owns a little shop where he barely makes enough to subsist. Are you going to burn it down and destroy his life because of your anger with the police or the government? I think not!

Margie Rynn said...

I'm not trying to make excuses for delinquents who burned and destroyed private property during the riots. But politicians with major media coverage choose their words very carefully. To go into a minority neighborhood and talk about flushing out the "scum", even if it is in response to rioting, is an incendiary statement. Sarkozy is one of the most media savvy politicians in France. He knew his statement would be on national TV in a second. And he was aiming very purposely at far right wing National Front voters. He has succeeded in neutralizing the National Front by co-opting their issues. He has also managed to virtually dismantle the Socialist Party by hiring their leaders, by the way. He is incredibly skilled at turning the opposition into a jiggling mound of jello.

And so rioters are simply mental defects, or scum, as you say? And where does that get us?