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.


Post a Comment

<< Home