Tuesday, November 08, 2005

You want Schadenfreude?
I'll give you Schadenfreude!

The Euro tanks. My rent goes down. Allahu Akbar.

That didn't take long

In my last post I speculated that someone across the Atlantic would before too long figure out a way to blame Bush for the riots engulfing Paris. Well, I forgot about Daily Kos, who beat them to the punch. Fourteen percent of Kos readers think Bush deserves more blame for the rioting than does "France" (which I suppose means everyone there who isn't now rioting) or do the rioters themselves. The poll's intro (by altscott) blazes a trail deep into the jungle of stupid in just two sentences:
I have been mesmerized by the string of riots that started in France and has spread to Germany and Belgium. This has been predicted by science fiction writers for over three decades yet I feel that the stressors in the middle east due to the Iraq insurgency are leading to a European insurgency.

Huh? Sci-fi writers over the past three decades have more often predicted Martian invasions than they've foreseen teenagers raised on bad French rap tossing petrol-filled Fanta bottles at a KFC while shouting "Allahu Akbar!" Watch the skies!

The website of the always-unintentionally-hilarious Moby devotes a page to quotes from George W. Bush, who had this to say about the riots of yesteryear:
"I have been asked who caused the riots and the killing in L.A., my answer has been direct and simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame."

Moby probably thinks this is reductive. I think the French should give this Texas logic a try, before they make a bigger mess by trying to appease thugs with a new redistribution scheme.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The wages of Schadenfreude

Not a small number of Frenchmen found America's distress in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina cause for another helping of the EU's favorite export: holier-than-thou derision. Here's what the newspaper Liberation had to say (translated by Britain's Telegraph):
A modern metropolis sinking in water and into anarchy -- it is a really cruel spectacle for a champion of security like Bush... bin Laden, nice and dry in his hideaway, must be killing himself laughing.

The Bush administration suffered this petty sniping with its trademark silence, admirable evidence of restraint and dignity. The French anti-American crowd doesn't look so smug anymore. Now, as Paris burns, it's their turn for silence--silence of the embarrassed kind, not the dignified kind.

A related and distressing development: Sparks from the French conflagration have apparently landed in the tinderbox of the Muslim enclaves of my beloved Brussels. As I have noted previously, Belgium is having problems assimilating its own North African immigrant population. A friend of mine who moved from Morocco to Brussels about ten years ago said that she sees disturbing changes in attitudes and behavior in immigrant community there. She does not wear a hijab, and for that young Mulsim men hiss at her when she walks through the Molenbeek district of the city.

An attack last night near the central train station of Brussels left five cars burned. Belgians have a reputation for near-catatonic apathy, but I can't believe that the spread of Muslim unrest across Europe isn't causing some unease there.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media desperately tries to cover up the Islamic nature of some of the violence plaguing France. Agence France Press makes this disturbing observation:
Among the rioters' targets have been churches, nursery and primary schools, town-halls and police stations as well as warehouses, car dealerships and a film-studio at Asnieres outside Paris.

What's even more disturbing is AFP's omission of synagogues from their list. Rioters have thrown fire-bombs at two synagogues in the past week, one in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine and another in Garges, according to the European Jewish Press. What would make churches and synagogues targets? Why have no mosques been burned? And why schools? What could the hooded and masked young men have in mind while hurling fire-bombs at a school? How could French schools have offended anyone so gravely? I wonder. Who attacks a film studio? Well, back in October, a gang of Somali Islamists decided it was time to put a stop to yet another un-Islamic behavior: watching movies.
Dozens of gunmen loyal to Islamic courts stormed a video studio in Somalia's capital on Monday, destroying equipment and confiscating hundreds of tapes that were being translated into the Somali language.
The courts consider watching movies, listening to music, dancing and many other forms of entertainment un-Islamic.
"We are very proud that we closed down the biggest movie translating firm," said Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, chairman of the Union of the Islamic Courts. "What's considered as harmful to the public will be destroyed."

Did those who destroyed the studios at Asnieres know what they were doing, or was the building merely a convenient target? The answer to that may never be known, but does anyone really believe that the synagogues were attacked at random, or by radical atheists or Christian skinheads? Presuming that the attacks have no religious element is as irresponsible as presuming they were wholly motivated by religion. When the killing of Theo Van Gogh last year set off a string of reprisal attacks on mosques, the media depicted the attacks for they were: intolerance motivated by cultural and religious differences. Investigation of the attitudes of the French rioters might reveal a similar reality, but the press is not interested. Better to pretend it's the devil-we-know: social upheaval in reponse to low wages, no wages, poor housing conditions, whatever. The possibility that the rioters consider themselves part of an umma that feels collectively offended by its host society is too frightening for many Europeans to face.

I've got my "Blame Bush" timer running on the situation in Europe. It can't be too long before The Guardian or Le Monde devise some elaborate mental contortion to pin this one on good ol' Dubya, the Global Whipping Boy.