Christopher Caldwell has a serious and clear-eyed piece in The Weekly Standard on the continuing decline of French social and political institutions. It’s a long and well-researched piece noting not only the critical problems facing the French state, but also the way in which the French government is refusing to face these problems, and in many cases, refusing to acknowledge that they exist.
France’s problems stem from the fact that France has managed to embrace post-modernism as its operating worldview. Every single discredited ideology of the last hundred years has found a niche in French society, from the World Social Forum’s pro-Marxist myopia to the French trade unions which have not abandoned their pro-Communist outlook.
However, it is France’s weakness toward Islamic fascist ideology that is the most disturbing. Tariq Ramadan has become one of the single most recognizable representative of French Muslims. However, Ramadan has been tied to al-Qaeda and has circulated anti-Semitic tracts including one that contained a list of prominent Jews to be “watched”. Ramadan is hardly a progressive figure, but rather the leader of an increasingly radicalized group of French Muslims who want to impose the dictates of shari’a in France. In many arrondissements of Paris young Islamic women dare not venture outside unveiled, and many simply dare not venture outside at all for fear of violence. Unassimilated young Muslims who have been filled with Islamofascist ideology are currently behind a string of anti-Semitic attacks throughout France including the recent desecration of a Jewish cemetery and the firebombing of a Jewish school. Yet the government continues to treat the problem with kid gloves rather than dealing with it directly.
As Caldwell notes in his article:
Sarkozy, to his credit, is against such a ban on religious symbols. “Are we going to accept nose-piercing [in schools] and refuse baptismal medals?” he asked on France2. But in place of such a law, the only alternative he could suggest was that Tariq Ramadan tell his young Muslim neighbors not to wear the veil to school. So here is France’s “leader of the future,” begging an Islamic fundamentalist to help him keep Islam out of French schools. What a predicament. Faced with a real religion, with real beliefs and a real sense of purpose, France’s secular, consumerist society is whimpering for mercy. As Khosrokhavar correctly puts it, “the legal project in question is not principally a matter of protecting the gains of feminism, but of hiding a major crisis that is now passing through French society.”
French society is indeed facing a major crisis. It has to strike the right balance between protecting Muslim religious freedom and avoiding many French neighborhoods from becoming breeding grounds for terrorism. It is perhaps not surprising that a state that has embraced secularism so completely is now under attack from a group of religious fundamentalists who are using the post-modern values of France to institute a system of law that rejects the very concept of secularism. The French government can no longer afford to ignore the rising tide of Islamic extremism both in France and abroad, yet the current government continues on it’s Quixotic attack against the United States. Unfortunately, what the French don’t realize is if they were to someone win against the United States, it would only hasten the true problem they face.