been, for lo these last dozen or so generations, however, at least
two Frances. One is the France of the Enlightenment and the Revolution,
which seems to have triumphed to every outward effect, in its
rebellion against God and his clerics. The other is the France
of Charles Martel, and the greatest Gothic cathedrals, still pulsing
in some leonine rural hearts, or even in the remembered wheeze
of the odd sick, symbolist poet. I despise Revolutionary France,
which reinvents itself in every generation, most recently as the
final paradise of sophisticated consumerism. I despised the cheap
romanticism that subverted the poet's symbols. But the old Catholic
France is the apple of my eye.
of the North American papers are beginning to learn, at least
20 urban districts in France (mostly around Paris) have gone up
in flames. In Ottawa, we noticed that the French prime minister,
Dominique de Villepin, cancelled his visit to deal with the crisis.
And it is so large a crisis, that our media have, after just one
week of it, begun to break the bonds of political correctness
that prevented them from reporting what was going on.
As well as
we can now reconstruct, it began in Clichy-sous-Bois, a suburban,
North African ghetto, which has been a police no-go area for several
years (like many other Muslim ghettoes in Europe), and where young,
declaredly Islamist, thugs rule the streets by day and night.
(Their war cry, while hurling missiles and setting fires, is "Allahou
Akbar!" -- "God is great!" There is no possible
doubt about their orientation.)
were nevertheless called to deal with some youths who were stripping
parked cars with more than the usual ostentation. Two kids who
were probably not participating in this crime, and were anyway
not being chased by the police, decided to hide behind the fence
around an electrical pylon.
the Bastille event. They were electrocuted. They died. As this
news spread, the entire district erupted in violence. Over the
last nine nights, the violence has spread from one Muslim ghetto
to another. (There are similar fires now smouldering in Belgium,
Denmark, and Sweden, but these began independently.)
authorities are beginning to realize that this French Intifada
is not entirely spontaneous, that e.g. weapons had been laid in
for just such an uprising. Radical Islamists have been preaching
strict separation between Muslim and French society; the French
have themselves defeated their own project of assimilation by
allowing large-scale immigration to congregate in nasty, Stalinesque
public housing estates.
of these districts is now effectively in the hands of radical
Islamists, whose central demand is that French authorities stay
out of the little emirates they have declared. The very secular
French government, under Jacques Chirac, offers two contradictory
responses. One is that of the prime minister, de Villepin, who
keeps muttering about "tolerance" and "understanding".
The other is that of the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, whose
approach is to call the youth "scum" and "rabble"
and send the gendarmes in waves. Neither of these gentleman has
at least lip-service to the ludicrous idea that increased spending
on social programmes for these "underprivileged" districts
will finally win the day. Even while the kids on the streets are
purposefully destroying every physical manifestation of French
state generosity (such as it is). Both speak as if they were dealing
with some Marxist revolt of the proletariat against their capitalist
oppressors. Instead, what they have is an Islamist revolt against
of the old Catholic France was, over the centuries, that of Charles
Martel: victor at Tours in 732 A.D., where the advance of Islam
on Western Europe was stopped. It consisted in a frank realization
that two civilizations were clashing, where only one could prevail.
The choice was relatively simple: victory over the invaders, or
death and servitude.
enlightened alternative is "negotiation". Good luck