Friday, November 11, 2005

Solution to "Scenarios": Reporting

What is it about the social engineer that makes he or she blind to consequences? Is it a virus? If so, it seems to have spread to the press, both here and in France, regarding the last two weeks of banlieue rioting. If you read the French press (examples are linked in articles on below on this site), or if you read the American press, only two scenarios are given. The word "scenario" is chosen carefully; a scenario is a guess, a story enclosed, perhaps even dictated, by judgment a priori. When a reporter puts out a scenario, it's an editorial or a short story, not a news report. The two scenarios emerging from commentator prose and talking heads are as follows:

Scenario A. Radical Islam has invaded France; the riots are a prelude to the transformation of France into a European version of Palestine vs. Israel. While the isolation and poverty of Muslims in France is a root cause of this, in scenario A, the explosion into violence is caused by Al Qaeda's minions.

Scenario B. The riots are an explosion of rage directed against a French government and society that have systematically excluded immigrants from French life. As often happens with ghetto-ization, the excluded have adopted an exclusive response, as follows: you may not want us, but we don't want you either. In this scenario, there are no Muslims, only disaffected children and grandchildren of workers imported from northern Africa fifty years ago.

Occasionally, reporters step into the fray to write news reports, as they used to be called, i.e., distilled observations of actual events, actual facts, questions asked and answered or not. One of these is Olivier Guitta at New York Press, New York's reviving conservative weekly. (NY Press went into a sharp decline when its best writers went to work for the NY Sun and former publisher Russ Smith sold the paper. The new owner is trying to bring back the editorial and repertorial sharpness that marked Russ Smith's version five years ago. Reporter Olivier Guitta is a good start.)

Many have explained the riots away as a revolt of young, poor and disenfranchised French Muslim citizens lashing out against a state that offers them little, thus whitewashing the extreme violence of the professional hooligans involved...The New York Times blames French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy for fanning the flames by calling the rioters 'scum.' Sarkozy responded in a November 4th column in Le Monde, France's major leftwing newspaper, writing that 'I do not associate the thugs with the huge majority of the young...who only wish to succeed in life.' He wrote about the 56-year-old man who was beaten to death in front of his wife and daughter for taking a picture, and a handicapped woman who was soaked with gas and put on fire. Scum seems a fair name for those who commit such acts.

We could have used this guy's reporting in New York fifteen years ago. Professional hooligans indeed....

Why do liberals and leftists fall over backwards to assuage the self esteem of thugs while the thugs' victims cry out for more police? In New York, before the advent of Mayor Rudolf Giuliani, policy under prior city administrations was precisely that: if they're rioting in Bushwick, send more money, a policy going back forty years to efforts by the Johnson Administration to bribe rioters in Watts and Detroit. However, the people whose houses and cars were being burned (as in France, mostly minorities) were screaming for more police, not more welfare checks. Giuliani listened to the people and sent the police into affected neighborhoods in force. Crime dropped seventy percent. Warring groups, such as Hasidim and American blacks, began to negotiate instead of trying to kill each other. These neighborhoods, unlike those affected by riots in the 1960s in Los Angeles and Detroit, have flourished in the years since. South LA and much of Detroit, benefactors of such liberal bribes for forty years, are close to wastelands by comparison. However, for years, the leftwing and liberal press ignored the effects of Giuliani's distinctly pragmatic response. But they can't anymore. Why? The policy worked. Guiliani did what any effective politician does; he listened to the people and gave them what they needed. Not a lesson learned in France, suggests Guitta:

At least since 1990, the Renseignements Generaux have been reporting on a regular basis of the ever-increasing insecurity inside the banlieues. In order to tame down this looming revolt, French governments decided to throw lots of money at the banlieues through social organizations. As shown in the powerful book Le Jour ou la France tremblera (The day when the French will shake) was a catastrophic plan because in most cases the ones that profited from this money were the outlaws themselves. They understood the rules of the game: riots mean television cameras, cameras mean pressure on City Hall which in turn means subventions. And that's exactly what Villepin offered [today].

If the policy and its consequences sound awkwardly familiar to the consequences of liberal bribery of rioters, instead of protection of neighborhoods, in New York and Los Angeles over the past forty years, it should. The game ruined whole sections of cities in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. While the majority cowered in doorways, they watched the gangsters in the limelight, taking checks from Uncle Sam. Maybe France needs Rudy!

Sadly, it's a much more difficult a problem in France. Neither the French government nor its people have ever welcomed the primarily North African immigrants into French society. Indeed, official policy seems to have been to create isolated colonies inside France, rather like the Bantustans built by the apartheid system in pre-Mandela South Africa. While Guitta (and many other thoughtful reporters) have pretty much demolished the scenario that says the riots in France were a pan-Islamist revolt, most have few doubts that the next step may be just that.

The poor, mostly African and Muslim immigrant suburbs, have been left to the control of violent gangs...abandoned by cops and firemen...most of the time, people are afraid to file complaints and even judges are routinely threatened by defendants...the real catastrophe for these law-abiding citizens who are stuck in these suburbs...either rioters end up in jail and are easily converted right there to radical Islam, or an imam from the banlieues convinces them to join the jihad. At first, family, friends and cops find the transformation almost miraculous. From a drug trafficker, alcohol-drinking, girl-chasing individual, the thug becomes religious, even reserved, adopts a quieter lifestyle and no longer gets into trouble with the police. But this is a transfer of violence: instead of burning cars, the youngster focuses his hatred on the West and becomes a jihadi."

You can read whole article here.

We had better pay attention to these few, rare reports, because the American model for our deluded multiculturalism, what may be fairly described as apartheid with a human face, may soon have similar consequences here.


1 comment:

Wonker said...

What Luther said. Also good to hear that the NYPress is attempting to rejuvinate its tired format. It was a bastion of conservative brilliance in Russ Smith's (Mugger's) day, and perhaps promises to become that way again.