Friday, November 11, 2005

France in Flames

France and America share precious little common ground in our approaches to race and poverty. The famed French Architect Le Corbusier introduced the 20 story ghetto-tower and resultant urban rot to America in the 1960's. French and American approaches to poverty there diverge.

An egalitarian wave of 1960's American optimism built tower in the hearts of our greatest cities. The 21st century wave has struggled to reintegrate those former tower residents back into contextual neighborhoods. We have struggled to provide employment through affirmative action, and urban gentrification has sparked policies allowing poor residents to benefit from appreciating property values. We have addressed issues of racism head-on, and we have worked to identify points of improvement. Our cities are growing wealthy, multi-cultural and multi-racial without flashpoints of fury. Our efforts are far from perfect, but our progress incredible.

France opted to keep the great unwashed at arm's length, isolating the poor in suburban tower-parks. There they remained, forgotten until this month. America prospers, France burns. The reasons for the flash of fury in France's ghettoized pockets of poverty are simple: abnormally high unemployment, resultant low standards of living, and a resultant lack of hope. The noxious racist Frenchman himself, who heretofore only ruined dinner party with his unbearable arrogance, was enough of a spark to blow this powder keg of societal ills to high heaven. Head firmly planted in the sand, Frenchie insists there is no reason to consider race: Societie, Egalitie & Fraternitie is enough to ensure a level playing field.

The short of it is, this isnt going away anytime soon. Though our approaches are different, the results of indifference have always been the same. The United States is still rocked with periodic racial unrest 50 years after Rosa Parks stood her ground in Montgomery, Alabama. France has a long way to go.

1 comment:

Unlegal said...

An interview, published in this weekend's Wall Street Journal, with William F. Buckley Jr. reported an interesting take on the events in France. (WSJ 11/12-13/05) Mr. Buckley, the distinguished author and Anti-Christ in residence, opined that cold market discipline would throw a wet blanket on the whole ordeal. If the youth in question were faced with the daily worries of earning enough to eat, so the argument goes, they wouldn't have time to riot.

Taken from another angle, if the French had less regulation, their labor market would have gainfully employed the riotous youths years ago. Inclusion in the national economy would necessarily, over time, work to integrate the immigrants into society. It is high time the people of France kiss the immigrants upon both cheeks, and clasp them to the bosom of French society--through employment if not exactly "work."