Friday, November 04, 2005

Paris riots now into 8th night, shots fired at cops

Well, when you riot for over a week, not even the American media can ignore that. Add to that the fact that someone upped the ante last night and took some shots at the French cops who are trying to restore order.

As I mentioned before, the rioting was touched off by the deaths of 2 muslim youths who ran from police (who weren't even chasing them) and got electrocuted when they decided to hide out in a power transformer substation. Much has been made since of the root causes of the riots - it's not those 2 dead boys, that's for certain - and the blame seems to land squarely on the French themselves. They isolated their immigrant populations, their economy is in the tank, they've telegraphed their unwillingness to defend themselves on their own turf, etc. These are all true.

And they all miss something basic. There have been - and are, I might add - plenty of people in exactly the same circumstances who don't riot. Who don't turn a tragic accidental death into an excuse to torch a police car or trash a post office. Who don't look at their situation as bleak and answer that situation with violence against their neighbors. There are plenty of things the French government has done wrong in this whole affair, yes, and they need to fix them. They need to work on their economy and get it thru their heads that the path they're travelling isn't working. Time to try something new. (Or, perhaps, just less French.) But the ultimate reason there are riots is that there are people willing to riot. To what end, I ask? What exactly are they rioting for?