Are we French yet?

Jennifer Roback Morse
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Posted: Apr 03, 2006 12:06 AM

It was the audio that did it. Riding in the car, listening to a news report of the "student protests" against the immigration bills, I heard the sounds of crowds chanting, shouting, demanding. For a moment, I thought I was hearing student protesters in France. And that sound alarmed me, and activated me on immigration in a way no economic arguments could do.

I was hearing the sound of governance by street protests and mobs. Get used to it. If the Left has its way, that will be our governing method in the U.S. The stakes are far higher than just the outcome of the current immigration debate. The question is not only, how many immigrants, legal or otherwise, are we going to let in the country. The issue is, how do we conduct our politics and settle our differences. If the Left has its way, street mobs will be coming to a city near you.

Look at the photos from the rallies in France, and see the similarities. The million people in the streets of France were mostly native French students, and labor union members. The French student strikes were organized by their labor union handlers.

What was the protest about? A proposed law called "the first jobs contract" was designed to do something about the persistently high unemployment rate among French youth, currently 22% and under 20% only one year out of the last decade. The law under protest creates a more flexible labor market for workers under the age of 26. Employers would be allowed to fire young workers without cause within their first two years of employment.

Think about that. In America, just about anybody of any age can be fired without cause. But in France, the concept is considered such an outrageous step toward the heartless "Anglo-Saxon model" that a million people are out in the streets. In other words, a million Frenchmen are in the streets to protest a very reasonable law.

Why are the protesters out in the streets of America? To protest immigration reform. Many aspects of the House bill are completely reasonable and even necessary attempts to deal with an influx of illegal immigrants. Even if you don’t agree with every aspect of the House immigration bill, skipping school is no way to show it.

Yes, demonstrating is everyone’s right. But it is also the school’s right and responsibility to count it as an unexcused absence. Yes, voicing your opinion is American. Stopping traffic, throwing rocks at cars and generally intimidating people who disagree with you is not. I live in San Diego where several school districts, including Oceanside and Vista, have closed down for one or more days, fearing violent confrontations between students. And flying the Mexican flag doesn’t exactly signal a desire to become American citizens.

Who is behind these nation-wide, well-coordinated protests? It is hard to believe that French youth are impassioned about not being fired from jobs they don’t have. And indeed, the main organizers of the French protests have been the public employee unions, which account for one-quarter of the labor force in France. The French protests were held in conjunction with nation-wide strikes of public employees, shutting down public services such as transportation, schools, mail delivery and broadcasting. The ability to make people miserable is the source of the union’s power.

The students in America also had a bit of coaching. While Latino DJ’s and Spanish language media have taken some of the credit for promoting the protests, radical Leftist groups also played a key coordinating role. In Los Angeles, the Service Employees International Union, described by the LA Times as a union that represents janitors, helpfully provided security services for the rally. The group, which is better described as a far-left anti-war group, coordinated over 100 buses that dropped off marchers in LA from across the Southwest. 

In San Diego, the American Friends Service Committee, which long ago gave up its Quaker Oats for anti-American activism, reportedly were on hand during the marches.

Solving complex political issues through street demonstrations is a recipe for bad public policy. France is a banana republic with bad weather. As Hoover Institution scholar Dennis Bark said about the French demonstrators, "There is going to be no debate about whether the law makes sense. The debate is going to be about: how do we get these kids off the street?"

This is my fear about immigration: the continual importation of people who will be clients of the welfare state and the Democratic party. If all we were dealing with were economics and jobs, we could find grounds for compromise. But under the tutelage of the Left, Hispanics are becoming "assimilated" to the identity politics, and entitlement mentality that is so beloved by the Democratic Party and so obnoxious to taxpayers.

I go to a church that is filled with Mexicans. I love them. It is a privilege to worship with them. They are good, devout, family-oriented people. But after a few years of associating with the party of perjury, paganism and perversion, they won’t be.