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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Anywhere to go back to?

I don't have time or mental clarity, this late in the evening, to say much about the violence and destruction in France. However: it appears that a great number of people left various places in Africa and came to France, the Netherlands, and I dunno where else in Europe, presumably to escape poverty and/or find work and/or live under less oppressive governments. It doesn't seem to have worked out very well. They may be less poor than they (or their parents or grandparents) were, but they don't appear to be looking at their economic status as a glass half full. A high percentage are unemployed. And they're going to end up making their governments more oppressive, at this rate.

Fox News (online) reported that some of the rioters set fire to a middle-aged woman on crutches. If that's true, it'd sure be nice -- and quite unexpected -- if some of the rioters reacted the way Gandhi did when members of his noncooperation movement in Indiana attacked and killed (burned, if I'm remembering correctly) some Indian policemen. He called off the noncooperation tactic and went on a hunger strike until his followers went along. Of course, that'd require drawing a sharp ethical line between property destruction and torturing disabled women to death in the street.

As for solutions, oy. If I were a French policymaker, I'd be inclined to cut back drastically on immigration from Africa, if much of it is still happening, until my country had figured out how to cope with the previous immigrants and their descendants -- unless some humanitarian emergency were involved, in which case I'd be scurrying to come up with some improved intake/assimilation procedures. What about all those folks who are already in France and unhappy about their lives there? Is there any African country whose languages include French and which is welcoming new citizens with some knowledge of Western ways??? I'm not talking "send them back", a la Abraham Lincoln at some stage of his thinking, but if there were such a place, and if any of the disaffected were interested in relocating, some program could be developed to assist in that process. Those who didn't choose that option might become clearer in their minds about their own investment in France. Which still leaves what I gather are very serious French cultural obstacles to effective assimilation. Which I doubt will change soon.

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