Let's backtrack a few days to look at Alain Finkielkraut's remarks, for which he's in hiding in France:
Alain Finkielkraut. "When an Arab torches a school, it's rebellion. When a white guy does it, it's fascism. I'm 'color blind.' Evil is evil, no matter what color it is. And this evil, for the Jew that I am, is completely intolerable." (Hannah/Opale)
He has been following the events through the media, keeping up with all the news reports and commentary, and has been appalled at every article that shows understanding for or identification with "the rebels" (and in the French press, there are plenty). He has a lot to say, but it appears that France isn't ready to listen - that his France has already surrendered to a blinding, "false discourse" that conceals the stark truth of its situation. The things he is saying to us in the course of our conversation, he repeatedly emphasizes, are not things he can say in France anymore. It's impossible, perhaps even dangerous, to say these things in France now.
In the French press, the riots in the suburbs are perceived mainly as an economic problem, as a violent reaction to severe economic hardship and discrimination.
The problem is that most of these youths are blacks or Arabs, with a Muslim identity. Look, in France there are also other immigrants whose situation is difficult - Chinese, Vietnamese, Portuguese - and they're not taking part in the riots. Therefore, it is clear that this is a revolt with an ethno-religious character. they suffer from, against the....
We prefer to say the `youths' instead of `blacks' or `Arabs.' But the truth cannot be sacrificed, no matter how noble the reasons.
"We are witness to an Islamic radicalization that must be explained in its entirety before we get to the French case, to a culture that, instead of dealing with its problems, searches for an external guilty party. It's easier to find an external guilty party. It's tempting to tell yourself that in France you're neglected, and to say, `Gimme, gimme.'
"Imagine for a moment that they were whites, like in Rostock in Germany. Right away, everyone would have said: `Fascism won't be tolerated.' When an Arab torches a school, it's rebellion. When a white guy does it, it's fascism. I'm `color blind.' Evil is evil, no matter what color it is.
"Of course discrimination exists. And certainly there are French racists. French people who don't like Arabs and blacks. And they'll like them even less now, when they know how much they're hated by them. So this discrimination will only increase, in terms of housing and work, too.
But you're not allowed to say that, either. I can't. It's common sense, but they prefer to propound the myth of `French racism.' It's not right. "We live today in an environment of a `perpetual war on racism' and the nature of this anti-racism also needs to be examined.
"But I think that the lofty idea of `the war on racism' is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology. And this anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century. A source of violence.
There won't be a return to quiet. It will be a return to regular violence. So they'll stop because there is a curfew now, and the foreigners are afraid and the drug dealers also want the usual order restored. But they'll gain support and encouragement for their anti-republican violence from the repulsive discourse of self-criticism over their slavery and colonization. So that's it: There won't be a return to quiet, but a return to routine violence."
[W]hen I speak the way I'm speaking now, a lot of people agree with me. Very many. But there's something in France - a kind of denial whose origin lies in the bobo, in the sociologists and social workers - and no one dares say anything else. This struggle is lost. I've been left behind."
Jean-Pierre Elkabach - When a society is in crisis, an intellectual, especially one who is well-known and influential such as yourself, Alain Finkielkraut, is supposed to take the high ground and calm people's minds. Your recent statements to foreign newspapers have been judged unacceptable and are creating and will continue to create a scandal.
A writer in France writes to a columnist in New York City:
"I could never get away with publicly saying this in France, but it can't be an accident that the rioters were all Arabs and African Muslims. There are plenty of other poor immigrant groups in France, including many African Christians, but none of them were out there torching schools and their neighbors' cars."
And so it goes. Those few intellectuals who dare vary from the party line are castigated at best, hounded into hiding, or in the case of the Australian Christians from Catch the Fire ministry, convicted of hate crime for reading passages from the Koran. Then we could look at Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or, worse, Theo van Gogh.
Is this a racial issue? Of course not. Does that matter to those who demand that all things be seen in light of race and Left dhimmi fascist identity politics and communitarianism?
Below we get a view from Australia. Most people are not committed ideologues. They don't have time to get good at something so silly. Most people take their ideas from the community at large, and thus from the intelligentsia. The herd mentality extends upward into the glorious heights of journalists, academics, and politicians. We're not stuck with them. We can read and make up our own minds if we choose to. However....
Racism is repulsive, but so is self-loathing
December 14, 2005 YESTERDAY a colleague emailed me from New York. The young lawyer - her family lives in Brighton-Le-Sands, a bayside suburb north of Cronulla in Sydney - wrote: "While I agree there is no justifying excuse for the violence and breakdown in order that occurred at Cronulla, it needs to be put in context. Unless you live in an area like Cronulla, Brighton-Le-Sands or Bondi, you have no idea what it is like to have one's suburb regularly inundated with large groups of young Muslim men from the western suburbs who proceed to shoot people [as has happened in Brighton], intimidate people, regularly threaten people within their vicinity with violence, drive around in large groups screaming abuse at people from cars with their music blaring, regularly brawling, etc."
This young woman recounted that all of the girls in her family (except the youngest) have been "subject to harassment inflicted by groups of these men - comments on our appearances, racist comments on our Australian background, unwanted touching, being followed while walking home by groups of men in cars (I was once followed all the way home - have never been so scared in my life), sexually explicit remarks while alone, with friends or with boyfriends, unwanted called-out invitations to have sex with groups of them, etc".
Someone please tell Bob Brown. If ever you needed confirmation that the Greens senator is a disconnected, fringe politician who needs to spend time in Cronulla, it came yesterday when he blamed the appalling violence in Sydney's southern shire on John Howard for having "mired the issue of racism in Australia".
Suggesting that the nation is swamped by racists, that ordinary Australians need some fine moral instruction from the likes of Brown, is just the latest adaptation of the David Williamson school of thought that treats ordinary Australians with disdain. It's a form of elitist self-loathing that gets us nowhere in explaining why thousands of people descended on to the streets of Cronulla in apparent retaliation against the attack on two surf lifesavers by men of Middle Eastern descent.
But as far as digging for root causes goes, this genre of reaction has been entirely predictable. Starting at the downright dumb end of the digging spectrum, sniffy journalists such as The Sydney Morning Herald's David Marr pointed the finger at talkback radio host Alan Jones for stoking the vigilante violence at Cronulla. Never mind that the majority of Jones's audience is older than 40 and the thugs at Cronulla were half that age.
Academic Amanda Wise from Macquarie University's Centre for Research on Social Inclusion blamed it on "John Howard dog-whistling on immigration" and "Bob Carr singling out the ethnicity of rapists". And forgetting the old adage that if you find yourself in a hole, your best bet is to stop digging, Phil Glendenning of the Catholic Edmund Rice Centre went for the Howard quintet of apparent policy neglect: "Through Hansonism, the Tampa incident, children overboard, weapons of mass destruction and the unfair targeting of people of Islamic background over issues like terrorism and Iraq, Australia's young people are growing up in a culture of fear of the other."
Racism was on the streets last weekend. No doubt about it. White supremacists alleged to have links to neo-Nazis admitted they brought in more than 100 people to join the rampage at Cronulla. Young men used their bodies as billboards to read: "We grew here, you flew here". This is racist and it's wrong. Vigilantes bashing young men and women is criminal. But grabbing hold of Hansonism every time racism rears its ugly head and tarring the whole crowd with the same racist brush gets us nowhere.
There is so much more to this than racism. And we're fooling ourselves if we pretend otherwise. Britain has a much deeper experience of cultural tension. And that experience has thrown up some thoughtful debate missing in Australia right now. Last year, David Goodhart, editor of the progressive Prospect, wrote a controversial piece called "Discomfort of strangers". It explored the tenuous fabric that binds us as a society. He pointed to the "progressive dilemma": the conflict between solidarity and diversity. He compared the homogeneous nature of British society in the 1950s with the present one, where individualism and diversity have produced a very different society.
He talks about us not just living among strangers but having to share with them. "We share public services and parts of our income in the welfare state, we share public spaces in towns and cities where we are squashed together on buses, trains and tubes, and we share in a democratic conversation about the collective choices we make. All such acts of sharing are more smoothly and generously negotiated if we can take for granted a limited set of common values and assumptions."
Goodhart was hounded for suggesting that throwing people of different cultures together can cause friction. Not because of any latent racism, but because "we feel more comfortable with, and are readier to share with and sacrifice for, those with whom we have shared histories and similar values." That friction is most evident in The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries, societies that were once homogeneous but recently have been confronted with immigrants from very different cultures.
As Goodhart says: "To put it bluntly - most of us prefer our own kind." Even to raise such a notion will have the less thoughtful leftists crying racism. But the sooner we recognise human nature, the sooner we can work out where to go from that starting point.
Recognising human nature means that multiculturalism, though a fine sentiment, can only work if we unite behind a core set of values. Unfortunately though, that policy has become a licence for rampant cultural relativism. We are loath to criticise any aspects of cultures (except our own) for fear of sounding terribly judgmental and unfashionably un-multicultural.
Instead, culture is talked about only as an excuse for abhorrent behaviour so that the offender becomes the victim. Last week, a convicted gang rapist claimed he assaulted a 14-year-old girl because she was not wearing traditional Muslim dress and he thought she was promiscuous. Pointing to cultural differences, the 27-year-old Pakistani-born man said: "I believed at the time I committed this offence that she had no right to say no. I believed I'm not doing anything wrong." A month ago his lawyer told the court his client was a "cultural time bomb".
If this view, that culture can be used as an excuse, represents the views of even a subset of Muslim youth, then we have a problem. If we are not talking openly about egregious aspects of some cultures (except as an excuse), we have only ended up with a bigger problem. And, to date, we have not been talking. Multiculturalism has been synonymous with a rights agenda - addressing minority grievances - rather than a framework for talking about responsibilities. The violence that has been brewing in Cronulla, culminating in the disgraceful rampages in recent days, is a pointer that if we're serious about social cohesion, it's time we all demonstrated social responsibility.http://www.theaustralian.news
Something's right awful wrong with this picture of multi-cultural Disneyland. Some mice are rats. We can pretend all we like, but the family rating is falling off pretty fast. If we refuse to look at the rat that is Islam, if we continue to call it a mouse in spite of all evidence and common sense, then we get more rats doing more rat behaviour. Islam might come on as Mickey Mouse, but really, let's face it: Islamis Mickey Rat.