Another bad night. But I'm even more depressed by some of the rush-to-judgment commentary floating around the blogosphere. Anne Cunningham seems to feel the same way. To save myself some time [and at the risk of sounding unbearably pompous] I'm pasting in part of the response I just left on Neo-Neocon's thoughtful post:
As you say, until we know more about what's going on, we shouldn't leap to conclusions. I'm really disturbed by some of the coverage I've seen on other blogs. People seem determined to make everything fit into some neat ideological box, regardless of the few facts available so far. As for some of the anti-Muslim comments that have been posted (not here, but elsewhere) well, they're frankly racist, and stupid. "Deport them..." seems to be one common response. Where to? The rioters are French citizens. OK, the French can't complain if Americans want to indulge in a certain amount of Schadenfreude, especially after all the gloating coverage of Katrina. But let's stay grown-up about this. France has an underclass problem, America has an underclass problem. So does Britain. Religion complicates things enormously in Europe, yes, but we're not yet in a clash of civilisations. I don't want to sound Pollyanna-ish. At the same time, there's no point being apocalyptic either, even if it does give us a nice, warm glow inside.
I say this as someone who loves France as much as America. (As I'm usually mistaken for a North African when I'm travelling in Paris and, especially, the provinces, I don't have any illusions about all that "égalité, fraternité" stuff.) There's no question there's a structural crisis in France, but the idea that we have nothing at all to learn from their system is just silly.
PS: Just to make it clear, I'm not downplaying the seriousness of the riots. And I'm not saying Islamists have played no part in them. But we don't know enough yet, do we?
PPS: "But where's the French blogosphere?" asks one of Loïc Le Meur's commenters, who's clearly not impressed with the "intifada" talk in the English-speaking blogworld. Another links to a local blog's tribute to the two youths whose death prompted the riots in the first place. For what it's worth, the other images on the page show rappers, not jihadis.
Le Meur also has a link to a suburban blog, Monaulnay.com. One post there touches on the French media coverage: TV executives claim they were reluctant to give the riots too much publicity for fear of provoking copy-cat violence: "There's a sort of competition. 'They did that in such and such a town. We'll go one better, you'll see." ['Il y a une espèce de compétition : "Ils ont fait cela dans telle ville, nous, on va faire plus fort, vous allez voir." ' **Please feel free to correct my French...]