Thursday, November 10, 2005

When poor people get fed up

I hate, hate, hate that people try to cast the current French riots as a "clash of cultures" or some other such rot. As evidenced throughout history, people will riot when they feel isolated, excluded and disenfranchised. And even 'whiteys' do it.

This stunning article sums it up nicely.

10 comments:

Estars said...

But aren't the riots because of a culture clash, or some form of racism? Or maybe I'm confusing two different events. I know that Jewish-Parisians are getting beat up and getting slurs thrown at them if they wear the yamaca (sp?) outside of the temples or schools. I saw a mini-documentary about it a few days ago, and I forgot some parts, but there was some sort of attack on a kids school bus going to a Jewish school. Also if you have a muslim sounding name, employers won't hire you. That sort of thing.

lividia said...

as far as i can tell, the riots were started over the accidental deaths of two africans who were running from the police (police deny they were chasing). it sparked some kind of "the government is racist! boo!" riot and then like a big ass game of broken telephone turned into "they're so racist we don't have jobs because we're african / muslim / immigrants / black / named Steve!".

so uh... let's go burn cars??

a controversial thing that affects jews in france as well is the ban on wearing any religious gear in schools, as part of the whole official "integration" line that the government loves to harp on. that meant that yarmulke's (jews), turbans (sikhs, muslims) and hijabs (muslims), etc. (all obvious marks of religion) were a no-no and this of course feeds cultural division in the country - if i can't go to school in my hijab, i can't go to public school and therefore have to go to a private religious school where i may just get told to hate everyone, especially you because you dissed my hijab, biatch.

further division ensues!

i don't know if that muslim-sounding-name-thing is true, that could go for canada as well as france, just depends on the assholeness of who's hiring.

lividia said...

hmm... though apparently, it's not so much a problem anymore in france?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4395934.stm

but then, looky here! turkey getting on the no-religious-symbols train...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4424776.stm

the world is so confusing :)

Don Quixote said...

But aren't the riots because of a culture clash, or some form of racism? Or maybe I'm confusing two different events. I know that Jewish-Parisians are getting beat up and getting slurs thrown at them if they wear the yamaca (sp?) outside of the temples or schools. I saw a mini-documentary about it a few days ago, and I forgot some 'parts, but there was some sort of attack on a kids school bus going to a Jewish school. Also if you have a muslim sounding name, employers won't hire you. That sort of thing.

The distinction lies in the difference between 'culture' and 'socio-economic' positioning. To frame the riots as religion- based is to ignore the underlying realities of the situation: there is a great gap between the rich and poor in France. It is actually quite dangerous to suggest that this is a Muslim vs.. Christian (white... whatever?) confrontation. There have been many riots/revolutions throughout the history of France - and indeed the whole world - and they are very rarely based on anything other than exclusion and suppression.

Don Quixote said...

'as far as i can tell, the riots were started over the accidental deaths of two africans who were running from the police (police deny they were chasing). it sparked some kind of "the government is racist! boo!" riot and then like a big ass game of broken telephone turned into "they're so racist we don't have jobs because we're african / muslim / immigrants / black / named Steve!".'

The thing is though, most of the people that are being called 'Muslim' in these riots are very slimly associated with the religion. They are mostly Algerians, that have little knowledge of Islam, the Arabic language or even the concept of 'Jihad' itself. Calling this conflict a clash of religions or cultures will very quickly cause them to identify with that pronouncement however, and will more than likely turn it into a sort of self-fulfilling, racism based construction.

The simple fact of the matter is that not enough is done to assimilate immigrants into the country, even though it is the country itself that was responsible for the drive to accumulate those immigrants in the first place.

lividia said...

the 'slim identification with islam' thing can go both ways though.

yes, religion is absolutely a way to label these riots in a way so as to simplify them and create an 'us vs. them' mentality amongst observers, and it is being used as such here by various people as a way to avoid or oversimplify the socio-economic problems that are the basis of this whole mess.

BUT in the face of extreme poverty or extreme anything people are willing to blame anything ANYTHING about their perceived opponent on issues of discrimination. ergo, you are behaving towards me in this manner because of my religion / race (or whatever).

vicious cycle.

but the identification thing, on a personal note, is hard to avoid in the face of certain pressures. part of my background is muslim, and though i never did practice (my family never cared much for it, being kinda far-removed anyway) nor really care for it, looking "kinda islam-y" was enough for me to get sucked into some royal bullshit post 9/11. and you know what it made me do? it made me defend and identify with a culture i never gave a shit about before.

Don Quixote said...

"BUT in the face of extreme poverty or extreme anything people are willing to blame anything ANYTHING about their perceived opponent on issues of discrimination. ergo, you are behaving towards me in this manner because of my religion / race (or whatever)."

The way I see it is that it's the responsibility of government, in the face of that mentality, to maintain an elevated policy and commentary position on the issue. In other words, it is incumbent upon government to avoid feeding the fever of societal mentality, and to subtly guide events in the right direction. I just think that adversarial commentary on this matter is going to create something that isn't fully there to begin with.

"but the identification thing, on a personal note, is hard to avoid in the face of certain pressures. part of my background is Muslim, and though i never did practice (my family never cared much for it, being kinda far-removed anyway) nor really care for it, looking "kinda Islam-y" was enough for me to get sucked into some royal bullshit post 9/11. and you know what it made me do? it made me defend and identify with a culture i never gave a shit about before."

That is exactly the point I'm getting at: a whole hell of a lot of people are going to identify with something that they haven't given a shit about before (not that there is anything wrong identifying oneself with Islam), namely the Jihad movement, if it keeps getting framed as an 'us against them' clash. The more you tell someone that they're fighting a "war of cultures" the more they are going to believe it.

some girl said...

I was going to comment, then I wasn't, then I was, then I wasn't, then I spent the day getting shat upon by the world at large and crazy commenters and now I just would like to say: "Thank you for being intelligent and having conversation that illustrates the fact that humanity is not completely forsaken."

I'm done now.

PS. Today on my way into work, I realized I had no idea what sparked the riots and was determined to read something that would give me some background, well done at making my life easier and me a better informed American (we are so hard to come by at times).

Don Quixote said...

Somegirl, your comments are always welcome here. :)

Crazy comments? Don't let anybody push you around via blog - or I'll have to sort them out.

some girl said...

And this is something that I am working out...I inspire loyalty and support in such a dominant way. I wonder what it is, for you are not the first person to make the offer, and there were a few who acted upon the offer. I am not offended or bothered, but this (and the married men) is a very new trend.

In a past life everyone who knew me would say that I could and would take complete care of myself. I wonder if my chi is off?

Thanks for the offer as I do appreciate the loyalty. It's heart warming to know that strangers don't judge me as harshly as I judge myself.