Friday, November 11, 2005


After two weeks of rioting in France, just about everyone with any axe to grind in American politics has found some way to "explain" riots they often know little about among a group in French society they rarely know anything about. These "explanations" almost always come packaged with a barely concealed effort to promote the analyst's pet policy. People who want to fight poverty talk about poverty in the banlieux, people who want to fight Muslims in Iraq talk about a "French intifada." All in good fun, and no more than is to be expected, I suppose. The Journal gets in on the act in a big way today, with a long lead editorial, a Daniel Henninger op-ed, and another run at the topic on the "Taste" page of Weekend Journal. With so many others having already joined in the game of pin-my-pet-issue-on-the-French, it would be churlish to mock the Journal for its unsurprising conclusion that the riots prove the need for tax cuts. So this will be a short offering today.

The lead editorial does, however, make one point which cries out to be addressed. After having proved to their satisfaction that tax cuts would fix whatever ails those melancholy French people, the editors can't resist one final parting shot. They caution "advocates of multiculturalism" that the French riots prove the dangers of an insular ethnic community cut off from the mainstream of national life. Maybe so, but whatever the French experience proves it doesn't offer much evidence of the consequences of multiculturalism. French immigration policies are now, and have been for quite some time, obsessed with maintaining unity and solidarity. Remember, after all, the great French rallying cry, "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite;" this was a call to brotherhood and equality, not to a gorgeous mosaic that celebrates difference. If French policies have in fact produced isolated ethnic subcultures cut off from and hostile to mainstream French society, the last people in the world whose proposals are discredited by that are advocates of affirmative action and multiculturalism.


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