Monday, October 23, 2006


There's a lot of comment on anti-jihadi sites and blogs right now about unrest in French suburbs. Incidents like the torching of a bus are described as an intifada. So far, most of the MSM put more weight on social conditions - poverty, unemployment - that were said to have been behind the riots last year.

The problem is that the attitudes of radical Islam have permeated the identities of Western Muslim underclasses in just the same way as, and alongside, those of Gangsta rap. Thus, the clothing of these people reflect US urban chic, they drink and take drugs, pimp and deal, steal and threaten - all completely un-Islamic - at the same time as professing to be proud of their Islamic identity and basing that identity more on bin Laden than on Omar Khayyam or Andalucian astronomers.

There used to be a similar pattern with Rastafarianism. A real Rasta, and a real devout Muslim, is as puritan and boring as a devout Christian or a Mormon door-knocker. Yet in the 1980s a lot of street criminals grew the locks, listened to reggae and thought of themselves as Rasta.

In some ways, describing the French unrest as an intifada is just buying the learnt rhetoric of a part of society that has long known the benefit of regurgitating any philosophy that might boost their sense of self-righteousness. The language of liberal criminology and sociology - that they are victims of poverty and it is all society's fault - is also regurgitated. The "policeman's hat" syndrome is another example, learned from miscarriages of justice: "I might have been caught red-handed in a bank with a striped T shirt, eye mask and bag marked 'swag', raping a pensioner, but the policeman who arrested me wasn't wearing a hat and I happen to know that's illegal, so while this vicious, corrupt police force continues to victimise me I remain a victim, the [insert town here] one".

Buying into this, in turn, reinforces the sense of self-justification in the rioters. We're not just vandals and thugs, we're an intifada, like the Palestinians, victims of injustice, noble, resisting tyranny.

Yet in a way, they are victims. It is harder for them to get work in France than it need be because of racism and economic and social policy that discourages the hiring of unskilled or young workers. A great deal of the problems of the underclass come from a lack of opportunity and an excess of help, the sort of help that makes the giver look and feel better while actually assisting the recipient not one jot.

The French social model, excessive regulation and excessive employee featherbedding, together with excessive welfarism, wastes people as well as money. And then they riot.

This problem isn't helped by radical Islam, but it isn't the consequence of it either.

1 comment:

Ismaeel said...

Peter Risdon has emailed me the following. The interesting thing about this email from the self-styled champion of unfettered free speech is his constant calls for civility. I have placed the appropriate sections in bold italics below. Maybe this dialogue thing is working.....
I had the courtesy to post on both blogs and found your failure to reciprocate irritating, so I deleted your comment. In hindsight I should have left it there, so I'll post an entry pointing to your site.
But I do find some of your language aggressive ("we won't take this lying down...") and patronising ("you should learn..."). Dialogue is a good thing. Constructive criticism is also a good thing - there are worse alternatives as the recent increase of physical attacks on Muslims, a woman having the veil torn from her face, four Muslims attacked last night in a mosque, show.
I would be greatly encouraged if you would accept the hand I have always extended to you, from the invitation for you to provide a speaker for the march rally in Trafalgar Square, through my request that the cartoons not be displayed, to this present response to an aggressive ad hominem attack by you on your blog with an invitation to dialogue.
Every time you have reacted out of hostility and paranoia - as over the debate in Oxford - you have been wrong. That will remain the case. My attitude is completely genuine. I am an atheist, I dislike extreme religion but not the people who practise it. Hate the sin, love the sinner, as the Catholics say.

Actually Peter the attitude of loving the sinner and hating the sin is one shared by a true Islamic perspective and was the first lesson given to me by my Shaykh. I'm glad you are appreciating the importance of civility in dialogue.