Two notable long pieces for your perusal today. The first is a Theodore Dalrymple account of conditions in the French immigrant ghettos:
Whether France was wise to have permitted the mass immigration of people culturally very different from its own population to solve a temporary labor shortage and to assuage its own abstract liberal conscience is disputable: there are now an estimated 8 or 9 million people of North and West African origin in France, twice the number in —and at least 5 million of them are Muslims. Demographic projections (though projections are not predictions) suggest that their descendants will number 35 million before this century is out, more than a third of the likely total population of France.
Indisputably, however, France has handled the resultant situation in the worst possible way. Unless it assimilates these millions successfully, its future will be grim. But it has separated and isolated immigrants and their descendants geographically into dehumanizing ghettos; it has pursued economic policies to promote unemployment and create dependence among them, with all the inevitable psychological consequences; it has flattered the repellent and worthless culture that they have developed; and it has withdrawn the protection of the law from them, allowing them to create their own lawless order.
No one should underestimate the danger that this failure poses, not only for France but also for the world. The inhabitants of the cités are exceptionally well armed. When the professional robbers among them raid a bank or an armored car delivering cash, they do so with bazookas and rocket launchers, and dress in paramilitary uniforms. From time to time, the police discover whole arsenals of Kalashnikovs in the cités. There is a vigorous informal trade between France and post-communist Eastern Europe: workshops in underground garages in the cités change the serial numbers of stolen luxury cars prior to export to the East, in exchange for sophisticated weaponry.
A profoundly alienated population is thus armed with serious firepower; and in conditions of violent social upheaval, such as France is in the habit of experiencing every few decades, it could prove difficult to control. The French state is caught in a dilemma between honoring its commitments to the more privileged section of the population, many of whom earn their livelihoods from administering the dirigiste economy, and freeing the labor market sufficiently to give the hope of a normal life to the inhabitants of the cités. Most likely, the state will solve the dilemma by attempts to buy off the disaffected with more benefits and rights, at the cost of higher taxes that will further stifle the job creation that would most help the cité dwellers. If that fails, as in the long run it will, harsh repression will follow.
Reading Dalrymple’s account, my mental images flashed back to John Carpenter’s schlocky but entertaining 1981 movie “Escape From New York.” Carpenter’s fictional dystopia, set in a “fascist” future America, has have been realized across the Atlantic, nurtured into terrible reality by a toxic stew of statist bureaucracy, socialist economics, blind multicultural pieties, and finally, rising Islamic radicalism. Except that there isn’t just one walled and lawless city in La France; there are over 800 of them.
UPDATE: The article above is from 2002, and I should have noticed (and noted) as much. That said, today’s news indicates that if things have changed since then, it hasn’t been for the better.
Also of note today, this remarkable post at CBS News’ Public Eye site, regarding last year’s Memogate scandal. A sample:
Are the documents fake?
Nothing I’ve seen leads me to believe they are authentic. The Thornburgh-Boccardi report (pdf) makes painfully clear that the documents used in the “60 Minutes Wednesday” report were neither authenticated nor believable in many ways. They certainly did not come remotely close to meeting standards for air. The report, written by lawyers in a style only lawyers can love, found that the panel could not prove the documents to be forgeries. But, to this day, no one has discovered where they came from or who may have written them. In any case, it was CBS’ responsibility to prove they were authentic, not for anyone else to prove they were fake.
Points made in the report — from the failure to trace the documents to the conflicting statements given by Bill Burkett as to how he came into possession of them to questions raised by experts about them prior to air — lead me to conclude they are not authentic. And from various discussions, I haven’t found anyone else at CBS who believes otherwise.
Some continue to claim that even if the documents are fake, the gist of the story is true somehow. Wrong. The documents were presented as evidence to prove the story’s accuracy. The fact that they have been discredited undermines the veracity of the entire story, and it’s not an acceptable defense of it.
Mapes’ contact with the John Kerry campaign is troubling by itself but more so when the contradictions are added. Mapes says she contacted Kerry spokesman Joe Lockhart to ask him to contact Bill Burkett as a condition of obtaining the documents. According to the panel, Mapes claims the subject of the documents was not discussed, nor was the story she was working on. Lockhart remembers it differently, saying Mapes told him about the story and the documents, going so far as to describe himself as feeling uncomfortable about the conversation.
The report does not find that political bias was a factor in rushing this flawed story to air in the heat of a hotly contested presidential campaign. I find it hard to believe some kind of bias, political or otherwise, did not play a role.
If the post-Rather, post-Mapes, post-Hewitt CBS News has the integrity and guts to undergo that kind of self-criticism on a regular basis, it’ll be a far better and far more trustworthy organization.
Major kudos are due to PublicEye blogger Vaughn Ververs for penning today’s piece, which is far more honest than 99% of anything written about the Memogate story in the rest of the MSM, and 100% better than anything in the self-described “watchdog of the press in all its forms.” I’m guessing Ververs isn’t the most popular guy within CBS today, but he may well be the most valuable member of their staff going forward.
For both of today’s linked articles, you should read the whole thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I also neglected to note that Ververs’ post has been up since last week (October 28). Bad day for dateline checking here at VodkaPundit, my apologies.