Friday, November 04, 2005

The clog is on the other foot, no?

As many Americans are just now learning, the merde is hitting the fan in France. There is massive rioting in poor Parisian suburbs after two North African youths were accidentally electrocuted trying to avoid local police. Though their deaths sparked the uprisings, years of mistreatment and racism are what's really fueling the ongoing violence.

I'm still not 100% what’s going on there, who is to 'blame' or what the authorities should do in response, so I'll withhold judgment. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my point. I'm not snapping to attack—blindly labeling France a racist country—the way some did the United States in the aftermaths of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Oh, but I could!

See, there's a certain irony in the current crisis. Europeans—at least European leaders, journalists and activists—loooove to talk smack about the U.S. That we're barbaric; we're prejudiced; we're ignorant. Not like the French or the Germans, who are level-headed, fair-minded and civilized. My God, they have gay marriage and abolished the death penalty!

The truth is, the French have been mistreating their North African immigrants for years— passing racist and anti-Muslim legislation and denying them access to good jobs, housing and education. Schoolgirls can't wear headscarves and young Muslim men are frequently assaulted by drunken posses. Even the language used by French leaders who are trying to maintain the peace would shock American ears with its eerily nationalist, if not outright fascistic undertones. The same is true in other European countries, like Germany and the Netherlands, where the prospect of employment has drawn Muslim workers by the millions from Africa and the Mediterranean. These once-homogenous nations are crapping themselves realizing they have to adapt to the diverse cultures on their doorstep.

But wait--I thought only Americans debased the Muslim world. I thought we were the bad guys who walked around heavy-handedly forcing our values down Muslim throats. I thought we brought about 9/11. I mean, it's not like European nations have a history of racism, violence and genocide, right?

My point is there is plenty of room for improvement in America—and anyone, from any country, is free to point this out. But I will not tolerate the high-and-mighty superiority of Europeans who, pardon my French, think their shit don't stink.

No if you excuse me, I think my Freedom fries are ready!


At 12:38 AM, Blogger mlliu said...

Interesting comment. I was thinking about that today as well. I used to think Europe was less racist than America, something about how African Americans were accepted into French society while segregation was still legal in the United States. But I was listening to a report on NPR today in which a French schoolteacher talked about how there are no antidiscrimination laws in France. I need to do some research on that -- I might be misquoting her or she might be wrong -- but it is nice to know that in this country, although we do still have racism/sexism/ageism/etc., citizens at least have legal recourse when they are discriminated against.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger sam the subversive said...

A very good friend who has lived in Belgium says the racism is actually much worse in Europe because there is little recognition that is exists, or that something needs to be done to combat it. Also interesting that efforts to combat it here is where the whole 'politcally correct' movement started. Out of the best laid plans?


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