If the end result of the riots is more autonomy, the suburbs of Paris will be a foreign country, a shard of irredentist Islam in the heart of Europe. If they have portraits of Napoleon on the wall, it’ll be to show the correct way to hide the hand that triggers the bomb belt.
So the rioters will not be bought off with job training. They know they have a brie-spined enemy, filled with doubt. Chirac, after all, spoke of a national “crisis of meaning, a crisis of identity.” Hardly a call to the barricades, especially when ordinary Frenchmen are thinking about a crisis of flaming cars. He also used the deadly word “malaise” to describe the French mood, and if history is any judge this means that Ronald Reagan will be elected President in a landslide.
Unfortunately, he is unavailable for the task. Too bad for Europe. Their modern vision – a post-national multiethnic welfare state linked by nothing but the language in which people curse one another – is fatally flawed. The rioters can’t be dispelled with Brussels-based regulations specifying the number of cars one can burn per night. But the ruling class will accept no alternatives, brook no heresies. The revolutions of ’68 brought to power the romantic leftists who despised the old order, its sense of tradition, its bourgeois values, its confident (if unexamined) sense of cultural coherence. They built a new order based on dorm-room bong-fest ideas, and now they face the future unmanned. They can’t even revert to the hypernationalist models of the 30s, either - Le Pen only drew 300 people at a recent rally. Fascism is too much work these days. Even for the old pros.
Oh, we’ll always have Paris. But don’t think some angry lads aren’t looking from their ghettos at the Eiffel Tower, and thinking what an excellent minaret it would make.