The rioting has continued, with varying levels of intensity, through today. Here's how Amir Taheri describes the scene in the New York Post:
As the night falls, the "troubles" start — and the pattern is always the same.
Bands of youths in balaclavas start by setting fire to parked cars, break shop windows with baseball bats, wreck public telephones and ransack cinemas, libraries and schools. When the police arrive on the scene, the rioters attack them with stones, knives and baseball bats.
The police respond by firing tear-gas grenades and, on occasions, blank shots in the air. Sometimes the youths fire back — with real bullets.
Most of the rioters are the French-born, Muslim children of immigrants. France has a Muslim population of roughly 5 million, the largest in Western Europe.
The reasons behind the rioting are harder to explain than the situation on the ground. News organizations are compelled to try to break down the root of an unrest that defies easy characterization. Here's what Elizabeth Palmer reported on Wednesday's "Evening News":
…throughout the week, the unrest spread into eight more areas around the city. These public housing developments have seethed with resentment and tension for years, mostly among young men of African or Arab descent. In some areas, as many as two out of three are unemployed and say they're frozen out of mainstream French society by persistent racism and discrimination. It's also made these impoverished neighborhoods fertile recruiting grounds for Islamic extremists.
According to Taheri, "in some areas, it is possible for an immigrant or his descendants to spend a whole life without ever encountering the need to speak French, let alone familiarize himself with any aspect of the famous French culture. The result is often alienation. And that, in turn, gives radical Islamists an opportunity to propagate their message of religious and cultural apartheid."
The rioting has gotten more coverage on the right side of the blogosphere than the left, with conservatives citing it as evidence of the failure of ideas traditionally associated with liberalism. Here's Robert Spencer, in Front Page Magazine:
That decision is a small example of what the Paris riots demonstrate on a large scale: the abject failure of the multiculturalist philosophy that disparate groups can coexist within a nation without any idea that they must share at least some basic values. The French are paying the price today for blithely assuming that France could absorb a population holding values vastly different from that of the host population without negative consequences for either.
Here's La Shawn Barber:
Paris is reaping what it's sown, and if we don't heed the warnings (as if the murder of thousands and destruction of two buildings in New York City weren't enough), we can expect the same.
Lax immigration policies, prostration to the god of multiculturalism, and the refusal to fight fire with fire are three reasons why Muslim "youths" in Paris are rioting in the streets.
As I see it, the religion of Islam is inherently incompatible with the concept of individual liberty, a crucial component of western countries. It's no accident that a culture like the West and a nation like the United States were envisioned and created by people who were either Christians and/or biblically literate and/or respected the Christian tradition. In countries under Islamic law, there's no such idea as "individual liberty." You're either a Muslim or in danger of having your throat sliced open.
A growing problem in the West is not only our insane, suicidal embrace of "multiculturalism," but an inability to recognize that Islam is an enemy intent on destroying freedom wherever it exists. Those Muslim rioters in Paris, angry about being unemployed or whatever their excuse, need to be crushed.
Of course, not everyone sees "abject failure" reflected in the riots. Check out this piece from Reuters:
Mahamadou Diaby grew up in a rough Paris suburb and failed to get jobs because of his address and his skin colour.
But he refused to give up, launched his own business and now has only contempt for gangs of youths rioting in his town.
"It's despicable," the 30-year-old Diaby says, sitting in his small office in this riot-hit suburb where he manages a tutoring service for some 100 families around Paris.
"Even if you're a victim of discrimination, that's no reason to burn cars. If you are not happy with your situation, you have to find the means to change it," says Diaby, adding he had been refused several jobs because of his African origins.
"I am here, and I come from the same background. And if I'm here it shows that it is possible to do it," said Diaby, whose parents emigrated here from Mali.
Conservatives have also seized on the riots to point out media bias. Here's Richard at EU Referendum on the BBC coverage:
And here we go again. Just imagine the coverage if this level of rioting was happening in downtown Washington. Just think of the commentary little Claire Balderson would be enjoying if, after a full six days of escalating riots, the president had to take time out to appeal for calm, as indeed Chirac had to do yesterday.
The TV would be full of it and the "Washington riots" would be front page of every newspaper, with ponderous articles in The Guardian and Independent about the failure of race relations and the inadequacies of the US capitalist model.
But, of course, this isn't downtown Washington, thousands of miles away. It is in Paris, only just over a hundred from our shores, a neighbour, ally and "partner" in the European Union - champion of the "social model" of which the Guardianistas and the Beebees so approve.
The Economist also takes some hits here, with its cover featuring America's "shaming" over Katrina contrasted with the magazine's coverage of the rioting. "The Economist didn't take the opportunity to declare The Shaming of France this time, just as it didn't two years ago when 15,000 old people died of neglect during a heatwave," writes the bad hair blogger.
A number of right-leaning blogs are also playing up the story of a disabled woman being set on fire during the riots, presumably to show just how bad things have become.
Stories like this are interesting in part because they show just how much what people consider news, and how we explain it, is influenced by our political views. Conservatives think this is a huge story, one that shows the failure of liberal ideology. They see the riots as the result of bad policymaking on the part of the left-leaning French government. (And it never hurts, from a conservative perspective, that France looks bad.) Liberal bloggers, for their part, have mostly ignored what seems a pretty significant story.
It reminds me why it's a mistake for anyone to pay attention to just one side or the other – and to accept the conventional wisdom of one's ideological brethren without questioning the beliefs through which it is filtered.