The great and brilliant sociologist James Q. Wilson noted that communities that tolerated small crimes, petty theft, vandalism, and the like were often quickly finding themselves facing worse crimes – and indeed, the last 7 nights of increasingly violent riots in Paris prove his point. The culture of lawlessness in France is paying out its terrible dividend as the ethnic ghettoes of the Parisian banlieues explode into anarchy.
Theodore Dalrymple has an excellent piece in City Journal that explores the decline of civil order across France:
The average visitor gives not a momentâ€™s thought to these CitÃ©s of Darkness as he speeds from the airport to the City of Light. But they are huge and importantâ€”and what the visitor would find there, if he bothered to go, would terrify him.
A kind of anti-society has grown up in themâ€”a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, â€œofficial,â€ society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrustâ€”greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid yearsâ€”is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.
Their hatred of official France manifests itself in many ways that scar everything around them. Young men risk life and limb to adorn the most inaccessible surfaces of concrete with graffitiâ€”BAISE LA POLICE, fuck the police, being the favorite theme. The iconography of the citÃ©s is that of uncompromising hatred and aggression: a burned-out and destroyed community-meeting place in the Les Tarterets project, for example, has a picture of a science-fiction humanoid, his fist clenched as if to spring at the person who looks at him, while to his right is an admiring portrait of a huge slavering pit bull, a dog by temperament and training capable of tearing out a manâ€™s throatâ€”the only breed of dog I saw in the citÃ©s, paraded with menacing swagger by their owners.
There are burned-out and eviscerated carcasses of cars everywhere. Fire is now fashionable in the citÃ©s: in Les Tarterets, residents had torched and looted every storeâ€”with the exceptions of one government-subsidized supermarket and a pharmacy. The underground parking lot, charred and blackened by smoke like a vault in an urban hell, is permanently closed.
Places like the Sarcelles, Les Tarterets, and the other ghettoes in which hundreds of thousands of Maghreb and Arab immigrants were locked into soul-crushing logements have become breeding grounds for both social alienation and terrorism. They are places where al-Qaeda can find as much purchase as they could in Fallujah, Ramadi, or Baghdad. They are home to France’s alienated underclass, areas of apartheid in a society that prides itself on the values of egalité, liberté, and fraternité. Unassimilated, angry, and hopeless, the inhabitants of the cités are inundated with violence and hatred.
French culture has consistently appeased the means of its own ongoing destruction. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote lovingly of the violent narcissism of Franz Fanon, who stated that “Violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.” The violence in France is merely putting that bloody idea into practice.
France’s combination of paternalism and racism have turned the 800 zones sensibles (“sensitive zones” in true Orwellian fashion) into hotbeds of violence and terrorism. The cités attempt to inculcate French culture into their inhabitants betray the fact that for all France’s justifiable pride in their centuries of achievement, France is no longer truly willing to defend itself. La Zone is a no-go zone for French police, and when they try to enter into these centers of the French insurgency, they are pelted with rocks and Molotov cocktails. Law and order is completely absent in La Zone, and the violence that has resulted is a direct consequence of that cultural abandonment. The people of the cités are kept in a state of apartheid not out of direct racism, but out of a doctrinaire adherents to an extreme form of multiculturalism. France is trying to atone for its colonialist past by ignoring the problems which threaten to wash away their very cultural identity.
France has been one of the lights of the Western world. French writers, artists, and intellectuals have produced some of the greatest works in human history. Paris is still considered one of the greatest of the world’s great cities. At the same time, no one should whitewash or brush aside the way in which France’s glorious culture is being slowly eroded into nothingness – and indeed, the problems in the cités are fueling a pushback from radical and even neo-Nazi elements like the racist National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen. It is sad that the only public figures in France who have been willing to point out the brewing problems have been the hatemongers. The Chirac government has done little to nothing to change the horrid conditions of the cités until recently. Despite France’s draconian anti-terrorism laws, places like the Sarcelles are ideal recruiting grounds for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
The situation in France is not something that anyone should gloat about or take pleasure in. Our own unwillingness to assimilate immigrants and defend our cultural values could very well lead us to the same fate as the cités. We have an obligation to not only welcome those seeking a new life here in the United States, but to protect and defend the culture that made us that beacon of freedom worldwide. American animosity towards France should not make us forget that there but the grace of God go we all.