Is Paris Burning Yet?

Chuck Colson
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Posted: Nov 14, 2005 11:05 AM
Commentators have been busily trying to explain the weeks of violence that have turned French cities into war zones. Some say it’s a result of high rates of unemployment among youth. Others suggested it is France’s fault for failing to assimilate the children of its mostly Islamic immigrants. Now, while true in part, these are only symptoms of a much deeper problem: France’s loss of moral and cultural vitality.

The unemployment rate among young immigrant men is 40 percent, as nearly every report notes. But no one asks why there is such joblessness. The answer is the economic system that, as writer Elizabeth Eaves puts it, “is eating [France’s] young.”

For the majority of the French, the system is a dream: 35-hour work weeks, six weeks of paid vacation, and a near-impossibility of being fired. The price for this welfare utopia, however, is paid by those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Job creation in France has ground to a virtual halt.

And there’s little chance of changing the system. As Eaves notes, the majority “would choose to keep paying themselves benefits until . . . the rioters have reached the Arc de Triomphe.”

This shortsighted approach has helped to create a permanent class of idle young men. And as any criminologist will tell you, communities filled with idle young men can expect trouble on their streets. Many of the rioters cited “boredom” as one of the reasons they took to burning cars.

If France’s economic policies are self-destructive and shortsighted, its attempts to assimilate immigrants are little more than outright capitulation. I’m not talking about reasonable accommodations to their religious and ethnic heritages, as in the United States. I’m talking about the failure to actively oppose practices that trap newcomers and their children in Islamic ghettos and increase the power and influence of Islamic extremists. As one native of the ghettoes told CBS, “it’s not France here.”

The most grotesque manifestation of this Islamic stranglehold is the abuse directed at young women who don’t conform to Islamo-fascist expectations: They are often gang-raped. Samira Bellil, the granddaughter of Algerian immigrants, was raped three times by young thugs. Not only did no one come to her aid, her parents threw her out after learning about the rapes.

Bellil’s experience is not unique. Last year, a 17-year-old girl was burned to death by one of these thugs. No wonder so many Muslim girls veil themselves rather than risk a similar fate.

While the most sensational of the atrocities are prosecuted, most go unpunished, and there’s little will to end this reign of terror in French ghettoes. The goal seems to be, well, look the other way and blissfully enjoy the Parisian nightlife. But time and demographics are on the extremist’s side. The French are not reproducing themselves to replace those who are dying. And Islamists are reproducing and immigrating. France, as we know it, will soon disappear.

The real problem with France, like the rest of post-Christian Europe, is a flawed, rigidly secular worldview. France has renounced its Christian heritage, refuses to reform its welfare state, and has no compelling moral vision—as we see in its sanctimonious rejection of British and American morally driven foreign policy. Without a vision, the people perish—which is why France may be doomed to “eat its young” and, in turn, watch as they bite back.


For further reading and information:

Falluja-Sur-Seine?: There’s a reason the media is reluctant to connect the dots on the French riots,” by Edward Morrissey (Weekly Standard, 9 November 2005).

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Val MacQueen, “Veiled Threat,” Tech Central Station, 18 February 2004.

Elisabeth Eaves, “The French Eat Their Young,” Slate, 9 November 2005.

The New French Revolution,” CBS News, 16 May 2004.

Mark Steyn, “Early Skirmish in the Eurabian Civil War,” Telegraph (London), 8 November 2005.

Jeff Clinton, “French Intifada,” The Dawn Treader blog, 7 November 2005.

Joel Kotkin, “Our Immigrants, Their Immigrants,” Wall Street Journal, 8 November 2005, A16. (Subscription required.)

Theodore Dalrymple, “Bonfire of the Vanities,” Wall Street Journal, 7 November 2005, A20. (Subscription required.)

Theodore Dalrymple, “The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris,” City Journal, Autumn 2002.

Joe Loconte, The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler’s Gathering Storm (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).