Monday, November 07, 2005

So, is it a "clash of civilizations?"

Yesterday, Clive Davis expanded on some comments he made earlier here, about blog response and press coverage (or lack thereof) of the riots in France, and added some interesting-looking links to some French blogs. He also provides a helpful translation of a few bits for the non-French-speaking among us, which includes me.

Clive wrote:

Religion complicates things enormously in Europe, yes, but we're not yet in a clash of civilisations. I don't want to sound Pollyanna-ish. At the same time, there's no point being apocalyptic either, even if it does give us a nice, warm glow inside.

Today, he adds further commentary on the question of whether this is indeed a "European intifada."

So, are we in a clash of civilizations, or aren't we? Clive is always worth reading and listening to, and I think he is correct to ask the question, and to say the answer is not a simple "either-or."

But sometimes the answer is "maybe," or "yes, and." Unfortunately, I don't think we are in any position to say for sure that we are not in such a clash, much as I would like this to be the case. The "fog of riots" has not lifted. And although there may be no point in being apocalyptic (not Now, at least), I don't think it's a good idea to dismiss the "clash" possibility out of hand.

Reasonable people may differ on this, of course. But I tend to think the evidence is quite strong that if we aren't in a clash of civilizations at the moment, we are at least teetering on the brink. Whether or not these particular riots fall into the category "clash of civilizations" remains to be seen. But pundits and bloggers and people in the street are going to rush in to fill the vacuum of knowledge with theories, and the idea that there are Islamic fundamentalist supremicists behind this, pulling at least some of the strings (directly or indirectly, intially or presently), is not an entirely unreasonable one.

Even without those puppeteers, fundamentalist Islamic tradition has a strain of intolerence, supercessionism, and violence that might be irrelevant were it not being revived today among some Moslems, both in Europe and elsewhere, permeating their worldview and informing their actions. On this topic, here's part of an interview conducted a year ago with Bat Ye'or, author of Eurabia:

Stephen Crittenden: The Muslim populations are here in Europe, in large numbers, particularly in France and Germany. I want to put it to you that there’s only one realistic political reaction to that for the future, and that is to learn to live together.

Bat Ye’or: Yes I agree totally with you. The problem is that Europe has tried to do that and this was in fact the basis of the dialogue, but the Europeans didn’t know how to proceed with the dialogue. They were not imposing their views, they were accepting always, but not imposing. They were apologetic and they didn’t say ‘Here we are, we are like this and you have to accept our mores and our laws’, because the dialogue between Muslim and non-Muslims is not symmetrical, it is not based on equality. The non-Muslims always have to adopt an attitude of passivity and acceptance and flattery in relation to the Muslim. This was how the dialogue developed. Now they didn’t foresee that they would be themselves victims of this policy with a recurrence of Islamic fundamentalism, the return of the 7th century mentality. They didn’t see in the long term the cultural revolution, that migration will bring also the intransigence of the Muslim fundamentalists.

Stephen Crittenden: Where do you think this is all going?

Bat Ye’or: It is going to disaster, because either Europe will become the new continent of dhimmitude or there will be a very savage xenophobic movement, because this immigration was not integrated properly, it happened too quickly. It is not only because the immigration was Muslim, because this would happen with any immigration, when you bring millions of people coming into a country in a very short term, they won’t integrate necessarily. But on top of it there is a refusal from the Muslim population often, not always, to integrate because they reject totally the Judaeo-Christian civilisation. I mean for 13 centuries they fought to destroy it, and if we are not aware - us non-Muslims and Muslims - of this past, we will not be able to come together, to bridge through our differences, and we have to recuperate this whole history that has been totally destroyed by the Janissary, Edward Said, in order to build with the Muslims a future of peace, not on dhimmitude because this will be our future, but on freedom and equal respect.

[ADDENDUM: Austin Bay adds all sorts of perspective, historical and otherwise, to the question of whether this might be jihad, or at least some sort of hybrid of jihad and a host of other things. He also sheds some rather fascinating light on the "Is Paris Burning?" quote from WWII that many bloggers are using in reference to the riots.]


At 4:36 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the key point that we just don't know? Nonetheless, a fair portion of the right half of the blogosphere have jumped the gun. I don't think it's time to be discussing mass deportation (when would that be the solution anyway??), and there is scant evidence that Islamists--or anyone for that matter--are directing the riots. The simplest explanation at this point is that the riots are a combination of violent, ignorant youths and lack of adult supervision and law enforcement. --timmah!

At 5:27 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Holmes said...

Well, I'd like to give Islamacists the benefit of the doubt and think this is just some rather violent adolescent angst and socio-economic pressures (I thought those didn't exist in Europia?), but at this point that would fly in the face of our experiences in the past, say, 35 years.

At 5:59 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger ambisinistral said...

The 800 Pound Gorilla Possibility that nobody seems to want to look at is that it isn't Islamists running the show. Rather, large chunks of North Africa, Algeria in particular, were transplanted to the center of Europe with little attempt to integrate them.

In short, Moslem enclaves were created in France, and with them came Moslem belief in their supremecy. The rioter's demands have all been for police and French authorities to vacate these enclaves and turn them over to local control.

France cannot cede territory in their own homeland, and neighborhoods that consider themselves Moslem territory cannot tolerate being ruled by infidels.

It is hard not to see this as the match being struck and the fuse lit.

At 6:11 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger jonz said...

IMO the French have no balls

At 6:19 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous ladin said...

India was forced to cede territory within its own homeland by Islamic rampages and political tactics, and Pakistan was the result of its partitioning.

This site analyzes the strong similarities, posits that such may be the strategic objective, and suggest that we will see France partitioned within a few years.

At 6:37 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Dymphna said...

Ladin says--

India was forced to cede territory within its own homeland by Islamic rampages and political tactics, and Pakistan was the result of its partitioning.

Yeah...and what a mess those Muslims made in Pakistan. They're a cultural sink hole.

France brought on some of this with its colonial history in No Africa, its cavalier use of immigrants when it had a manufacturign sector and needed cheap labor, and its general hauteur re America's problems with race and class differences. Remember those self-righteous lectures in 92, during the LA riots? Couldn't happen in la belle France because she was too "humane."

Sure. This is the country that invented the guillotine for use during its bloody Revolution. France "humane"? What a joke.

Vichy France.
France's anti-semitism.
France's refusal to allow the EU constitution to refer to Europe's historicallly Judeo-Christian roots.
France's bitter attempts to keep even foreign words out of its "pure" language.
France's too-kewl-for-the-rest-of-us nihilism...
...and the list goes on.

The mills of the God in which France is too intellectually superior to believe still grind exceedingly fine...

At 7:12 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Rodsomnia said...

"unskilled, uneducated, and alienated group"

At 7:14 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Rodsomnia said...

"unskilled, uneducated, and alienated group"

Sounds like the same group Alan Greenspan spoke of 11/3/05 in Congressional testimony.

"threat to Democracy" was mentioned. eerily similar

At 7:18 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

If this is not the start of the true "clash of civilizations", it is a harbinger. There are two competing models that are completely incompatible and that is a prescription for a clash. Even if things quiet down, that will only delay the reckoning. The Muslims in France cannot assimilate and the French state is not ready to surrender. I have blogged about this extensively for the last couple of days and can see no way out.
The Islamists may not have been running the Intifada, but their ideology is going to ultimately be the organizing principle of the uprising; sadly, there are no competing ideas that can defuse the situation.

At 7:27 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like you may have a few trolls (pretend, or parodic, conservatives) in the anonymouses above.

At 7:40 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Yes indeed, anonymous at 7:27 PM. But my guess is that it was actually all one troll.

At 8:22 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger The Bunnies said...

I see little evidence that the Islamists sparked the riots, but even if the riots started in a quest for "social justice," they could easily be transformed into a sort of jihad.

Conflcts often morph after they begin; our Civil War started to keep the country together but became about slavery, WWI started over Serbian issues but soon involved everything else.

If somebody is simply having fun blowing stuff up, somebody can easily come along to convince him that his thugishness can actually somehow be spiritual. If some Imam tells a hoodlum that he is acting out the will of Allah, what reason could the hoodlum possibly have to refute him? If he is told that burning more cars would please Allah, why would he refuse?

Furthermore, the radical Islamists have every reason to exacerbate this problem, for Europe is wimpy and they know it. France has already offered to pour a bunch of money into these neighborhoods, and the more destructive the riots become, the more likely the European elites will encourage more cultural understanding by building mosques with public money, allowing religious dress in schools, etc. This is the perfect way for the Islamists to get French taxpayers to pay for the dilution of their own culture, and they know it.

Then again, it could backfire and the French could vote in some weirdo like LePen. But I doubt it--self-hate is much more moral.

At 8:32 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous marvey said...

No - not clash of civilizations, it's the lameness of the French state:

How come Arab/African frenchmen who acknowledge the contributions of Asterix, speak french exactly the same way that Jack Chiraq does, and embrace the ideals of the French republic/state, are not treated the same way as white frenchmen?

I thought France had always advertised itself as a non-racist state, that if you embraced the culture, you would be treated as an equal? At least this is what I was taught by a Spaniard high school French teacher. Isn't that statement all bullshit / french propaganda? Aren't many frenchmen actually quite racist? Even more so than the supposedly more "racist" Englishmen?

Why do Mexicans who work on my lawn and garden, and Chinese who clean my toilets in the United States seem somewhat content and not inclined to riot for 2 weeks (or perhaps longer)

At 9:05 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous erasmus said...

So let's say someone took a poll today among the oh so rational and civilized French people, and the poll asked them if they'd rather have unassimilated, angry, arsonist North Africans among them--or Jews who'd work happily as assimilated French citizens in trades and professions and would hardly ever riot...

I'd bet those troublesome Jews wouldn't get 30% of the vote.
The more things change...

At 9:45 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Tim said...

Why don't you guys get to the real issue. The issue is not assimilation, clash of civilizations, or Jihad. The issue is that France refuses to accept French born people as French because they look "foreign". There is widespread poverty and unemployement among their neighborhoods. That is the real issue

At 9:59 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger The Bunnies said...

Tim, I don't deny that the French can be somewhat prejudiced, and those who live in those neighborhoods do have some legitimate grievances.

Nevertheless, an stupid way to fight stereotypes is to act them out to the letter.

France's inability to create new jobs has far more to do with socialism than racism. Furthermore, the immigrants will never assimilate into French society. Not only do very few of the wish to do so, there's almost nothing left to assimilate into. France presently stands for little other than opposing the Anglosphere on every front. Granted, they still appreciate good wine and cinema-sans-story, but such things to no a culture make.

At 10:20 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous erasmus said...

The Bunnies
Yes, what do the countries/cultures (and cultures were, once, repositories of national history, tradition, language, arts...)of the West have left to assimilate into? Dalrymple made the case v. England. You're echoing him on France.And what about the USA, and the now much-despised and derided melting pot?

You can't assimilate into a global culture. To cite Dorothy Parker:
"There's no there there."

At 10:28 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

It may turn out that Islamic anger is only a secondary cause in this matter. At the moment, however, we know they are shouting "jihad" and "Allah Akhbar." Helluva clue.

At 11:34 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Tatterdemalian said...

Are you sure "Allahu Ackbar" isn't actually French for "we are protesting widespread poverty and unemployment among our neighborhoods"?

At 11:52 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So...the French have created the equivalent of the old South African Bantu homelands for their muslim Africans. Since ethnic cleansing is not an option, the partition of France is inevitable, and in fact already well under way. Other Euro nations will follow the same path (Rotterdam is 50% non-Dutch, mostly muslim).
The lesson must not be lost on the US. Reform our immigration! And, though not p.c., exclude almost all muslims in future. But our fearless leaders of both parties will not heed this notion, nor act on it. Our State Dept is even now bringing over 50,000 shoeless Somalis from camps in Kenya. Now, there is social value added...they wash their feet in toilets, who knows where they poop.

At 12:46 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Mirtika said...

Let's suppose there is some legitimacy to the complaint of "no jobs" and discrimination. Okay, fine. Are these youths working hard, double-time, to improve their skills. Are they laboring nightly (when not engaged in arson, mind you) to get their engineering, architecture, nursing, law, medical, business&mgmt, int'l banking, mathematics, physics, biochemical degrees? Or are they just sitting around smoking hash and bitching about racism?

Minorities get ahead in Western nations--whether the minority persons be Indian, Latin-American (such as myself), African or Asian--when they apply themselves to hard study and hard work at entry level positions ANYWHERE. You don't become a successful entrepreneur by complaining. You don't get a college degree by bewailing. You succeed by working your butt off, even in the face of institutional or individual racist obstacles. In fact, the smartest immigrants ignore the bigots and get their Master's and Ph.D's and laugh all the way to the bank.

France has liberal education. I suggest the "disaffected youths" polish up their shoes and their high-class French and buy pens and notebooks and hie their asses to school.

You want to be part of French society, do what successful French--orr Indian, or American, or Brazilian or Japanese--set goals and strive.

Stop smoking hash, stop screwing around, stop making babies before you're married, stop burning cars.

Offer to wash someone's car, mow someone's lawn, clean someone's house,and move on.And if you hate the country you're in, move.

God, I hate whiners.

At 4:00 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

Offhand, I'd be inclined to dismiss it as faux civilization vs. no civilization...but that's just moi.

At 7:34 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

The Left seems hell-bent on using a Marxist model to address the french jihad. Where else but in France would citizens stand by and let their neighborhoods go up in flames? I commented in another blog that with considerable trepidation many European cities are watching closely. Sweden could well be the next area of jihad. I would push it there if I were a jihadi commander. Sweden is a fat herring, ripe for major concessions.

At 7:44 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

The Left seems hell-bent on using a Marxist model to address the french jihad. Where else but in France would citizens stand by and let their neighborhoods go up in flames? I commented in another blog that with considerable trepidation many European cities are watching closely. Sweden could well be the next area of jihad. I would push it there if I were a jihadi commander. Sweden is a fat herring, ripe for major concessions.
One commenter thought there was scant evidence that jihadis were directing this french jihad. Talk about desperate pretensions! Don't hold your breath for reason and good faith and empathy and mutual understanding and civilized conduct to run its course. He has alcohol and pork on his breath and doesn't even know it, and the women in his family are exposing their ankles and don't have their heads covered either. Hey buddy! Pray they don't come to your neighborhood with their molotovs and shotguns, you're just another infidel to them.

At 7:49 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

Well now, I see the poor and disenfranchised and oppressed muslims in Austrailia, or at least 17 of them, were preparing to express their discontent with chemicals and other nasty things. Hmmm - if only Aussies would quit drinking grog and letting their women expose their ankles this wouldn't be happening you know.

At 7:53 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Ironic how pro-Israeli as well as Saudi-controlled Islamic fundamentalist media are actually (for once) BOTH 100% aligned with the official Neocon talking points coming from Washington: I happen to know France fairly well and the truth is that the so-called “North-African riots all around the French capital” are just minor incidents involving a handful of disaffected Muslim teenagers…

This factual reality seems to have evaded the Jerusalem Post and Al-Arabbya’s highly imaginative journalists: why bother with boring facts when you can serve the colorful anti-Gallic clichés cooked by Dick Cheney and his Wahhabi friend/business partner-in-crime Prince Bandar Ibn-Saud?

First, one has to put things into perspective: in 12 days of so-called “massive Islamic rioting across France” we’ve had less material damage not to mention what US experts call “body counts” than say the 2001 Cincinnati riots (20 African Americans quickly terminated Schwarzenegger style) or the 1992 South Central LA uprising with more than 60 “niggers” executed on the spot- remember when President George H.W. Bush spoke to the nation, "denouncing random terror and lawlessness" as US Marines massacred their way into the remnants of the Black ghetto?
See Wikipedia article below for more:

So why the double standard for France where we’ve had to deplore a single casualty in 12 days of so-called “North African revolt”?

At a time when the Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post and Al-'Arabbyia are all jumping on the anti-Gallic bandwagon, we have to keep in mind that the French government is currently confronted with a primarily social and economic malaise, NOT some kind of Apocalyptic Mohammedan “grand soir” as the likes of Dick Cheney, Usama Bin Laden and the unholy Neo-conservative cum old Islamic fundamentalist alliance would like us to believe.

In French, poor suburbs with Soviet-style housing for Moorish immigrants and their children are generically called “La Banlieue” a medieval Gallic word which literally means “the place where the banned and the untouchables dwell”. . .

Eternally yours in Liberty,

Dr Victorino de la Vega
Chair of the Thomas More Center for Middle East Studies

At 8:33 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It isn't a clash of civilizations for the simple reason that the original theory predicted that the civilization of Japan and the civilization of the West(America) would come in conflict. The theory itself is therefore not very relevant.

As to whether this can be called a clash of civilizations, first we must characterize Muslim antagonists as part of a civilization. Which is clearly false. Barbarianism and civilization are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Especially if the antagonists are anti-everything protagnist as a way of self-definition and identity.

It's definitely a clash, but you'll need a different wordto describe that clash than civilization.

At 10:32 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

Hey Vic - rioting in 300 communities is not "minor incidents involving a handful of muslim teenagers". 1173 cars burned in one night, Monday night according to MSN. Minor incidents you say? HA HA - you remind me of Baghdad Bob - surely you remember him. I think you have mistaken this blog for the al jazeera blog site. Eh? Such cheek to come here with such tripe about US Marines slaughtering Black Americans. You've been on the arab street too long waving your arms in the air chanting anti-American propoganda. Say! You ain't that guy in Pakistan a year or two ago that was burning the American flag in protest and caught himself on fire, are you? You remind me of him. Unless you change your screen name to Baghdad Bob, I will not read any more of your commentary!

At 11:32 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Brad said...

The comment section is under sporadic neurotic parodic attack!

At 12:31 PM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

If you google "Thomas More Center for Middle East Studies," you get a list of two dozen blog comments by Dr. Victorino de la Vega at various sites around the web. So let's just call him "Vic," shall we? The TMCFMES doesn't seem to have anything as old-fashioned as an address, faculty, or books.

The comments invariably contain allusions to conspiracies involving neocons and gratuitous references to non-involved people who fit his stereotypes (see Arnold reference above). Sneering and use of the words "always," "never," 100%," and similar extremes pepper the writing.

The potentially interesting point that the French riots need to be seen in the perspective of American events is raised by Vic. I recommend we take up the question if a less fraudulent and more reasonable disputant takes up the argument.

At 12:49 PM, November 08, 2005, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

Yes, Dr. Vic has been kicked off websites around the world, from Britain (Samizdata) to Lebanon. He's an international troll of mystery.

At 1:05 PM, November 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt this is about Islam because they are burning cars not gay people, jews, american flags etc...


At 2:04 PM, November 08, 2005, Anonymous Mike said...

Take the comments by Victorino de la Vega with a grain of salt.
A Google search for Thomas More Center for Middle East Studies only turns up his weblog and his rantings on other logs. I guess when one does not have much to say, one needs to feel important by adding a title to your name.

At 2:19 PM, November 08, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Perhaps Victorino is a doctor of this type of Vega.

At 2:19 PM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

Mike's onto something here! I'm getting reports that the impoverished youth were using a street gang code word, allah akbahr, designed soley to confuse french police. Keep us posted, Mike, and good work! Any clues as to who these unhappy fellows really are??

At 6:58 PM, November 08, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This factual reality seems to have evaded the Jerusalem Post and Al-Arabbya’s highly imaginative journalists:

I do believe it is safe to say now that America now has a pro-American channel in the Middle East. Al-Arabiya.

And that was all the result of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the preceding operations.

Always listen to the enemy, and hear who they complain about. Because those will be your strongest allies.

On another note. Historically ideological movements, fascism, communism, or jihadism have always started out at a grass roots level. Meaning they require power in the form of guerrila tactics, protests, disruptions, blackmail, assassinations, extortion, and all that good stuff. Once they acquire such a base of power, then you'll see the gays and the Jews being strung up.

Almost immediately upon assuming the Chancellorship of Germany, Hitler began promulgating legal actions against Germany's Jews. In 1933, he proclaimed a one-day boycott against Jewish shops, a law was passed against kosher butchering and Jewish children began experiencing restrictions in public schools. By 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of German citizenship. By 1936, Jews were prohibited from participation in parliamentary elections and signs reading "Jews Not Welcome" appeared in many German cities. (Incidentally, these signs were taken down in the late summer in preparation for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin).

In the first half of 1938, numerous laws were passed restricting Jewish economic activity and occupational opportunities. In July, 1938, a law was passed (effective January 1, 1939) requiring all Jews to carry identification cards. On October 28, 17,000 Jews of Polish citizenship, many of whom had been living in Germany for decades, were arrested and relocated across the Polish border. The Polish government refused to admit them so they were interned in "relocation camps" on the Polish frontier.

They need power before they string up the Jews, so don't think it isn't about Islam just cause they haven't acquired the power to do so yet.

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