Monday, November 07, 2005

DNA [Daily News & Analysis] - Opinion - Why is Paris burning?

"France took many immigrants from its former colonies, especially from Algeria and several African and Arab countries and refrained from providing any state help to uphold their unique cultures. Au contraire, it frowned on any display of cultural separateness, as was evident from the banning of the hijab (and, it may be pointed out, the turban, the crucifix and several other overt religious symbols) from state-run schools. All of this sounds noble and egalitarian, but in practice, France's non-white populations have found that they have the worst of both worlds. They have neither benefited from any affirmative action, which would guarantee them some jobs, nor managed to merge with the national social, cultural, political and most important, economic mainstream. Many of them live in high-rise ghettos with pathetic living conditions and high unemployment"

Well, bravo. This piece from an Indian publication gets it right and says it succinctly.


Boofykatz said...

Succinct maybe, but it contributes nothing to the discussion as to what should have been done. Who or what is responsible for the integration of immigrant communities. If immigrants are islamic first and want to preserve their mythology above and beyond their desire to be, and benefit from, the norms of french society, is that the fault of the 'indigenous' french? I wonder how you would characterise a government enforced dispersal of immigrants?

H. E. said...

I'm all for government enforced dispersal of immigrants and all measures that prevent immigrants from forming "communities" or maintaining distinctive "identities."

I don't believe that very many immigrants would want to preserve their ancestral cultures if they had the option of assimilating. It's discrimination and exclusion, the refusal of members of the larger culture to allow them to assimilate, that induce them to cling to their native cultures.

You can't hold immigrants wholly responsible for failing to integrate if it just isn't feasible--if they face ongoing discrimination (as visible minorities in France do), if they're de facto segregated in high-rises outside the city limits, if they get no help in learning the language, etc.

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