June 5, 2006


Forging a voice in ‘France’s high-rise hell’: As fears of radicalism grow, Muslims take a pragmatic approach to politics (Daniel Strieff, 6/05/06, MSNBC)

In the United States, the word “suburb” may conjure up images of bedroom communities with neat, tree-lined streets and good schools — a haven from the hustle and flow of city life. Not so in France.

This Paris suburb (banlieue), a tinderbox of crime, sky-high youth unemployment and minority disaffection, spectacularly burst into flames last fall as riots gripped hundreds of ghettoes across France. Unrest, though less severe, again plagued Paris suburbs last week.

Among other issues, the fury in the streets among the mostly Muslim youth has underscored the lack of political representation for this growing segment of French society.

The National Intelligence Council estimates that Western Europe's Muslim population, which is now as high as 20 million, will more than double by 2025. Coupled with a graying indigenous population, that would mean the continent's largest population shift in centuries.

France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe at 6 million (out of a population of around 60 million), although precise figures are hard to come by because the state officially does not tally ethnicity or religion. Yet, none of the 555 deputies in the French National Assembly is Muslim.

We were watching the new series Revolution on the History Channel last night (Sundays at 10pm). The first episode detailed the colonists hysterical response to the taxes imposed by Parliament in order to pay for the expenditures of the French & Indian War. Finally, The Wife turned to me and said: "What a bunch of babies." Of course, the whle crisis could have been defused had the king just insisted that his loyal American subjects receive the representation they due as Englishmen in the legislative body that was making decisions that affected them, but....

We're trying hard to change (Prince Turki al-Faisal, 6/04/06, USA Today)

Can you imagine how different American history would be if the United States went from the War of Independence to the Internet Age in less than 75 years?

That is, in essence, the history of my country, Saudi Arabia. In just my lifetime, Saudi Arabia has evolved from a predominantly 17th century culture to a nation of 21st century attitudes and aspirations. But such incredibly rapid change has caused our society to experience many growing pains. [...]

Saudi Arabia is taking many other steps to combat extremism and intolerance. In 2005, for example, the government launched a public awareness campaign across all national media outlets to reinforce the true values of the Islamic faith and educate young Saudis about the dangers of terrorism.

In these times, we must all learn to "speak in God's language," that is, one of love and respect for people of all faiths, races and nationalities. And, with God's help, we will.

First we colonized them then we wonder why they're immature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 5, 2006 4:58 PM

Hmm, makes me wonder if that would have changed the Colonies to be more like England or if England would have been changed because of the colonial influence on the laws? I do, however, think that the US would be an independent state at this point, like Canada and Australia.

Posted by: Jay at June 5, 2006 5:18 PM

Saudi Arabia was never colonized.

"...the fury in the streets among the mostly Muslim youth has underscored the lack of political representation for this growing segment of French society."

What the heck does this even mean? How are they less represented than any other segment of French society?

Posted by: b at June 5, 2006 5:35 PM

They had to buy their own oil fields from us.

10% of the population with no reps? It's like Jim Crow America.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2006 5:39 PM

Who colonized Saudi Arabia, their Filipino servants?

Posted by: erp at June 5, 2006 5:54 PM

No, it's not. Who's stopping them from voting?

Posted by: b at June 5, 2006 6:11 PM

Standard Oil.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2006 6:26 PM

It's our fault again. Damn.

Posted by: JimBobElrod at June 5, 2006 9:18 PM

> "What a bunch of babies."

Taxation without representation is tyranny. With 18th Century communications technology, representation was impractical for a colony thousands of miles from Parliament. As one American put it, "The Member from Georgia would represent Georgia for six weeks. After that, he would represent a drawing room in Mayfair."

So people in Colonial times believed in colonialism. A colony contributed to the Empire by being exploited economically. Its industry was kept undeveloped, so the mother country had a captive market for its high-margin goods, and a captive source for cheap raw materials. Colonists let themselves be exploited in this way instead of being taxed.

What the colonists objected to was being double-billed: exploited and taxed.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at June 5, 2006 10:10 PM

Bob, How different is that from modern times, except they embed into the Washington dinner party circuit quicker than six weeks.

Posted by: erp at June 5, 2006 10:27 PM

Yet expenditures without representation were hunky dory. We were babies.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2006 10:55 PM

Watched the same program, had some of the same thoughts. I just dislike mobs. The whole bit about Hutchinson made me feel for him a lot.

However, I take comfort that we had patriots like Adams who could be both decidedly for revolution, but also for fairness (he defended the British Soldiers from the "Boston Massacre".)

Bob - it doesn't quite square with the fact that Ben Franklin spent 20 years in England as our rep and when it got down to it, he was on our side. And we sent lots of people like that, ambassadors and the like, doing important work in our name for decades before the telegraph. And conversely the British had their armed forces over here working in their name. It did work when it was tried.

Posted by: RC at June 6, 2006 5:34 AM

As George Washington said, the American Revolution was a clear case of Divine Providence intervening in history. Proof of it is that a bunch of babies established the greatest nation on earth, and the only one whose laws were based on Christian principles.

Posted by: pj at June 6, 2006 11:45 AM

Outmaneuvering the world's greatest power both militarily and diplomatically was quite a feat for your 'bunch of babies'.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at June 7, 2006 7:54 AM

It was easy--the Brits have never maintained control of a reluctant colony. To ask self-determination is to receive it.

Posted by: oj at June 7, 2006 8:15 AM

I guess the 20,000 Brits who stormed Long Island didn't really mean any harm.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at June 7, 2006 11:21 AM


The American colonies weren't considered an important theatre of operations at the time. We think that of course we were the center of the world, but the reality is the American colonies were a dumping ground where incompetent but well bred British generals were sent so they couldn't screw up something important.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at June 7, 2006 11:54 AM