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Question for Our Readers Who Know Modern France:

How accurate is Mark Steyn's summary of the magnitude of anti-Semitism in France? Also, can it indeed be true that the Sebastian Selam murder went unreported in the major French media? Here's what Steyn writes:

In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.

Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

A quick NEXIS search indeed found no references to Sebastian Selam in the French media (though I might have chosen the wrong database, or perhaps the NEXIS coverage is too spotty to be really telling). It did find references in French newspapers to the James Byrd and Matthew Shepard hate crimes in the U.S. If indeed the Selam murder wasn't reported, is there some reasonable explanation for that?

UPDATE: Sorry -- misspelled Sebastien in the paragraph above, but not in my NEXIS search, in which I searched both for Sebastien Selam (the name Steyn gave) and Sebastien Sellam (an alternate spelling I've seen).

Defending the Indefensible:

A quick NEXIS search indeed found no references to Sebastian Selam in the French media

Since I don't speak French I don't know how helpful I could be to find such references myself, but you might try searching for Sebastien Selam.
2.26.2006 2:59pm
tdsj:
2.26.2006 3:06pm
Lyndsey:
Ha'aretz spells his name as Sebastien Sallem.
2.26.2006 3:06pm
M.A. (mail):
This is the same Mark Steyn who, in reviewing a play about Matthew Shepard, wrote that "Shepard wasn't killed because he was gay, he was gay and it killed him."

So pardon me for not taking Steyn seriously when he tries to call attention to the murder of a minority. His concern for my people (Jews, I mean) is mostly based on his depression that not enough Muslims are being slaughtered at the moment.
2.26.2006 3:28pm
tdsj:
It's actually Sellam, not Sallem.

A google search on the correct spelling yields lots of results in french talking about the murder. I don't know French, and I don't know if any of these are from newspapers.

google
2.26.2006 3:29pm
Russ:
I googled "Sellam" with both "Figaro" and "Le Monde". Nothing from either of these two major french newspapers. Can we confirm that Mr. Sellam's murder isn't an urban legand?
2.26.2006 3:37pm
HankP:
FYI, I was watching CNN and they showed a huge rally (thousands of people, as far as I could tell) in Paris protesting the torture and murder of Mr. Sellam. I wonder how they heard about it?
2.26.2006 3:40pm
VFB (mail):
M.A.:

Can you cite a source for your quote as to Matthew Shepard, or to the effect that Steyn supports slaughtering Muslims?
2.26.2006 3:42pm
david (mail):
Hank - The protests are in response to the recent muslim murder of Ilan Halimi, not Mr. Sellam's murder by muslims.
2.26.2006 3:46pm
HankP:
Sorry, I missed the fact that Steyn was talking about a two year old murder. But I would guess the fact that they are protesting a recent religiously motivated murder is a sign of progress, no?
2.26.2006 3:53pm
tdsj:
"Can we confirm that Mr. Sellam's murder isn't an urban legand?"

yes, his murder isn't an urgan legend. There's just some ambiguity about what role anti-semitism played in the murder. The Ha'aretz story examines the issue pretty fully.

The short version: victim and murderer were old friends who had had a falling out. Murderer was drug-addicted and crazy and jealous of victim and also anti-semitic. Victim's mother believes the murder was motivated by anti-semitism, and she's upset that it didn't get more coverage, and she's upset that murderer was judged insane. But at least some people (including some French Jewish organizations) believe that it wasn't really predominantly motivated by anti-semitism.
2.26.2006 3:57pm
M.A. (mail):
VFB - The Shepard quote was from a theatre review Steyn wrote for the New Criterion.

As for the slaughtering Muslims, every column Steyn writes is about how we're not killing enough Muslims, or that white women need to have more babies to stop the Muslims from taking over, or both (as Tbogg summed it up). But my favorite example was his column on the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima, where he argued that America is currently too reluctant to kill civilians in the War on Terror (tm). He's a genocidal lunatic whose columns typify the Bush Cult's unique combination of bloodthirstiness and snivelling cowardice.
2.26.2006 3:59pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I had never heard of Mark Steyn's quote, but it would not surprise me had he said something to that effect. Take a look at this. Whatever the validity of Steyn's opinions in that piece -- he sure seems obsessed with gays for a purporetdly straight dude. I know that I spend almost time thinking about gays, and haven't noticed this supposed media trend he is talking about. Steyn probably needs an excuse to do some "investigative journalism" into the gay community. Very weird dude. And it surprises me that he is taken seriously by, well, anyone.

Looks like he screwed up by misspelling this guy's name -- what a clown!

2.26.2006 4:04pm
ficus:
M.A.,

As an occasional reader of Mark Steyn's columns, I am surprised to learn that he is monomaniacal on the subject of the genocide of Muslims and the promotion of the white birthrate. Apparently I have been reading with my eyes closed. I find him to be trenchant and controversial, but thoughtful and civil.

You are doing a good imitation of trenchant.
2.26.2006 4:08pm
Isaac Z. (mail):
I can't speak to the Selam murder, but I don't think Steyn's characterization of the French press and public sentiment, at least as excerpted here, is especially accurate. I've let my subscription lapse, but for most of the past two or three years I've read Le Monde online at least a couple of days a week, and it seems to me there's a lot of sensitivity to antisemitism there and among elected figures.

About a year ago, for instance, some swastikas and (barely literate) antisemitic slogans were found painted onto the walls of a meeting room in a synagogue (or Jewish community center?) in Paris. Within hours the mayor as well as the president of the republic were there on the scene making speeches condemning antisemitism generally and this incident specifically.

(Coverage of the incident continued over several days, at the end of which it finally emerged that a couple of jewish teenagers who were part of that congregation were actually responsible for the graffiti.)

Without drawing any particular conclusion, I'd also add that the last time I was in France, which is about three years ago, there was certainly a lot of anti-semitic (as well as anti-arab) graffiti in places like public bathrooms.
2.26.2006 4:08pm
Brandonks (mail) (www):
It's difficult to get a handle on, but here is a link to a study that might prove helpful in the larger issue of anti-semitic attitudes in Europe. It gives an overview of findings as well as an analysis for each country. It was commissioned by the "European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)", which is an agency of the European Union.

It looks like a reasonable source. Interestingly, there are references on a couple sites to attempts to supress this report for a time. The reason was alleged to have been that it pointed out there was a rising level of anti-semitism in Europe, and that a large part of that was due to European Muslims.

In searching for this report on the EUMC website, it really was buried where you would not find it unless you are wanting it (and know it exists).

On this page of the EUMC, there is also a second part of the study on perceptions of anti-semitism by European Jews.
2.26.2006 4:11pm
M.A. (mail):
Steyn "thoughtful and civil?" This is the guy who compared the U.S. Senators to "grubby little Nazis" for requesting an Iraq exit strategy; called John Kerry an "effete ninny" and cheered the Swift Boat Veterans ad as "one of the most remarkable political ads ever seen"; spread a rumor that American Muslims knew in advance that 9/11 was going to happen; wrote that Robert Fisk had gotten "his due" when he got beaten up; etc., etc., etc. He's Ann Coulter, except less amusing and even more of a pathetically ill-informed dimwit.
2.26.2006 4:16pm
Raw_Data (mail):
I would have never credited these acusations of French anti-semitism except for a visit to The Musée d'Orsay about fifteen years ago. They happened to be having some sort of exhibit related to Jews; I can't remember what it was at this remove.

Every other exhibit was prominently-displayed and out-front and done with high production-values.

The one which relatede to Jews was in a remote back-room and mounted on plywood.

It was a striking contrast and obvious that the French -- or at least the d'Orsay intellectuals -- have some odd attitudes about Jews.
2.26.2006 4:34pm
tefta (mail):
Wow. Mark Steyn, an anti-Semite? Not to be believed. A reader may disagree with his point of view, but after reading his columns for years, I find him indispensable.
2.26.2006 4:36pm
anonymous coward:
I'd guess the New Criterion review is this, but I don't see a similar line about Shepherd, M.A.

Anyway, Oh, I don't think Steyn is much less amusing than Coulter. I do think more people take him seriously, which is pretty disturbing.
2.26.2006 4:46pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Anyone have a link for Steyn's 60th-anniversary column on Hiroshima? I would really like to see his alleged remarks on killing civilians.
2.26.2006 4:47pm
M.A. (mail):
No, the New Criterion review I'm referring to is of an earlier play, and the review isn't online (or I couldn't find it).

Here is Steyn's piece on Hiroshima (sorry for the Free Republic link, but that's basically where his stuff belongs anyway).

It would have been preferable, too, if the swarm of foreign jihadi from neighboring countries had occasionally been met with the “accidental” bombing of certain targets on the Syrian side of the border. Wars fought under absurd degrees of self-imposed etiquette are the most difficult to win – see Korea and Vietnam – and one lesson of Germany and Japan is that it’s easier to rebuild societies if they’ve first been completely smashed. Michael Ledeen, a shrewd analyst of the present conflict, likes to sign-off his essays by urging the Administration, “Faster, please”. That’s good advice. So too is: Tougher, please.

Bloodthirsty psychotic twit. Appropriate that he quotes Michael Ledeen, who is even more bloodthirsty and psychotic and a bona fide traitor to America as well (see Contra, Iran).

The incredible thing about the Bush II years is the extent to which psychotic and anti-human ideas and people are celebrated, to the point that Ledeen can get a chance to betray America again, evil anti-human lunatics like Leon Kass and Richard Neuhaus advise the President on "ethics," and John Yoo is considered a legal authority. Dark times indeed.
2.26.2006 4:55pm
Albarello (mail):
How about this:

Even Mr Bush is somewhat constrained. National Review’s John Derbyshire wrote last week about a ‘1945 solution’ for Iraq. This is shorthand for the bombing of Dresden, the nuking of Hiroshima, etc. — the sort of stern measures that let an enemy know he’s well and truly whipped. But, as Mr Derbyshire points out, war abroad is determined by culture at home, and if we were fighting the second world war today, we wouldn’t nuke Hiroshima or even intern Japanese-Americans: the culture will not permit it. Nor will it permit old-school imperialism. Culturally sensitive nation-building is as aggressive as you can get these days.

What a pity "the culture" will not permit us to nuke or firebomb the civilians of a country we invaded. Jesus H. Christ. This passes for "indispensible" commentary for some readers of this blog?
2.26.2006 4:59pm
VFB (mail):
I found the article you are referring to. You did not have a direct quote, in spite of your use of quotation marks. He says, “Maybe Matthew Shepard would have died anyway, not at twenty-one but at twenty-five or thirty, not because he was gay and someone killed him but because he was gay and it killed him.” Steyn, Mark, A Theatrical Cipher, September 1, 2000, Volume 19; Issue 1. Your quote had him denying that Shepard was killed for being gay, but he said no such thing.

--- This is the guy who compared the U.S. Senators to "grubby little Nazis" for requesting an Iraq exit strategy; ---

Nope, the actual quote is,

“But what do Rockefeller and Reid and Kerry believe deep down? That voting for the war seemed the politically expedient thing to do in 2002 but that they've since done the math and figured that pandering to the moveon.org crowd is where the big bucks are? If Bush is the new Hitler, these small hollow men are the equivalent of those grubby little Nazis whose whining defense was, "I was only obeying orders. I didn't really mean all that strutting tough-guy stuff."” Senate adopts ‘exit strategy’ from reality

In Steyn’s opinion, they are not "grubby little Nazis" for requesting an exit strategy, but rather for making an excuse for having voted for the war previously, rather than admitting their error.

--- spread a rumor that American Muslims knew in advance that 9/11 was going to happen ---

Steyn never claimed that American Muslims as a group knew in advance about 9/11, but stated that there were individual Muslims who did. Writing in the Daily Telegraph in November 2001, he states “Among the more interesting Muslim items this past year was a story that appeared last October 11 in the Journal News, a suburban New York newspaper. It concerned a student in a Brooklyn high school, who, on September 6, 2001, stared out of the window and told his teacher: "See those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week." Mark Steyn, We must all be more sensitive, 14/09/2002). Jonathan Alter of Newsweek stated that he has no doubt this story is true Trade Center Warning Baffles Police , and the federal government’s 9/11 commission found it to be credible.
2.26.2006 5:05pm
M.A. (mail):
"He says, “Maybe Matthew Shepard would have died anyway, not at twenty-one but at twenty-five or thirty, not because he was gay and someone killed him but because he was gay and it killed him.” Steyn, Mark, A Theatrical Cipher, September 1, 2000, Volume 19; Issue 1. Your quote had him denying that Shepard was killed for being gay, but he said no such thing."

I apologize for the misquotation, but the accurate quote is disgusting enough. I never thought that he denied that Shepard was killed because he was gay; the point is that he perpetuates the vile inhuman slander that being gay is inherently self-destructive and inevitably leads to death.

And I didn't say that he called the Senators Nazis; I said he compared them to Nazis, which is not exactly "civil."
2.26.2006 5:13pm
Cabbage:
Don't confuse M.A. with contrary facts. It'll give him a headache to have to amend and caveat his ad hominem attacks on Mr. Steyn. Don't you get it? M.A. thinks Steyn has unacceptable political positions. Therefore, if Steyn says the Sun will rise tomorrow M.A. will thoughtfully rebut - "this is the same guy who..."
2.26.2006 5:23pm
M.A. (mail):
No, the point is that Steyn cherry-picks incidents from Europe or wherever and uses it as proof that Europe is being taken over by the big scary anti-Semites and Muslims. I mean, I do think it's problematic to be reading the work of a genocidal racist like Steyn in the first place (just as it's problematic that the Bush administration takes advice from various genocidal racists and religious fanatics) but if he's right, he's right; the point is, when he writes about a two-year-old incident as proof of some larger trend in Europe, he's clearly proving nothing about Europe, but merely digging up anything he can think of to support the cause of killing brown people.
2.26.2006 5:28pm
dimitrir:
VFB, please don't complicate the matter with actual quotes. What M.A. posted sounded perfectly plausible on it's own.

And M.A., thanks for posting - and saving me the weekly visit to KOS, that internet forum of centrist exchange of facts and ideas.
2.26.2006 5:33pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
cheered the Swift Boat Veterans ad as "one of the most remarkable political ads ever seen"

In fairness, they were "one of the most remarkable political ads ever seen" but I use the term "remarkable" in a different manner than Herr Steyn.

As to this quote of his, "if we were fighting the second world war today, we wouldn’t nuke Hiroshima or even intern Japanese-Americans." Now that's a remarkable statement, and quite revealing. The use of the "even" is what is the mos revealing. Were I writing the column, I would reverse these. The nuking of Hiroshima is something that is controversial -- although I am firmly of the opinion that it and Nagasaki were justified under the circumstances, and what was known to Truman and his advisors at the time. I never thought, however, the interning of the Japanes was controversial, as all reasonable people, including President Reagan, had concluded long ago that it was one of the greatest mistakes in US history, and a blatant violation of several parts of the Federal Constitution. The racist Michelle Malkin has apparently changed that, and Mark Steyn views it as a bad thing that it would not have happened, "even" worse that failing to use the nuclear bomb to end a war two years earlier than expected. Wow! Furthermore, while as noted I agree that under the facts and circumstances known at the time, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified, I still don't think it is contestable that those bombings were a tragedy. Yet the "indispensable" Mark Steyn writes about them with glee and celebration, as if the very thought that a civilized culture would think twice before unleashing such horrific power on civilians is a sign of the decline of our culture. A truly sick man. And people should be ashamed that they consider him "indispensable." Disgusting.

2.26.2006 5:34pm
Sandy007:
M.A.:

This is the same Mark Steyn who, in reviewing a play about Matthew Shepard, wrote that "Shepard wasn't killed because he was gay, he was gay and it killed him."
So pardon me for not taking Steyn seriously

You're obviously confusing two different writers, since Mark Steyn has never said anything close to what you're quoting.
So, because you're misinformed about something that he never even said, you're "not taking Steyn seriously".

Pardon us for not taking *you* seriously.

2.26.2006 5:34pm
VFB (mail):
--- And I didn't say that he called the Senators Nazis; I said he compared them to Nazis, which is not exactly "civil." ---

You did not just state he compared them to Nazis, but stated he did so for a particular reason; “for requesting an Iraq exit strategy.” That is not what he said.

I agree with you that Steyn statement was disgusting. Steyn’s assumption that the typical gay person dies of AIDS by thirty has no basis in reality. With that said, one should not use quotation marks, unless it is a direct quote.
2.26.2006 5:35pm
VFB (mail):
--- And I didn't say that he called the Senators Nazis; I said he compared them to Nazis, which is not exactly "civil." ---

You did not just state he compared them to Nazis, but stated he did so for a particular reason; “for requesting an Iraq exit strategy.” That is not what he said.

I agree with you that Steyn statement was disgusting. Steyn’s assumption that the typical gay person dies of AIDS by thirty has no basis in reality. With that said, one should not use quotation marks, unless it is a direct quote.
2.26.2006 5:35pm
dimitrir:
With that said, one should not use quotation marks, unless it is a direct quote

Or if you're maureen dowd
2.26.2006 5:42pm
ficus:
M.A.,

Thank you for the link to the article about the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.

While I do not agree that the bombing of Nagasaki was right, the opinion that it was does not put Mr. Steyn beyond the pale. Although you no doubt think differently. It is interesting to see that in your Inferno, Steyn is joined by Father Neuhaus and Michael Ledeen. Who else is there, may I ask? Norman Podhoretz? Christopher Hitchens?

By the way, you yourself are not British, by any chance? Something about your, mm, palette, made me wonder.
2.26.2006 5:44pm
Shelby (mail):
Well, this thread devolved fairly quickly. Isn't the best refutation of Steyn's point about antisemitism in France, the current outrage being shown over an apparently antisemitic murder? The back-and-forth over Steyn himself that we're getting here is not very illuminating.
2.26.2006 5:49pm
Charlie Eklund (www):
M.A.,

Your characterization of Mark Steyn as a "genocidal racist" is utterly groundless and without merit. In what world is noting the fact that the American public of today would not condone nuking Hiroshima or Nagasaki equal to lamenting that fact?

Not in this world.

As for his alleged "cherry picking" of anti-semitism in Europe...well, I don't know what you mean by that. Europe's history is one of ghettoization of Jews, of religious, political and economic persecution of Jews, and of, finally, a serious and nearly successful attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Why anyone would expect a continent-sized leopard to change it's two thousand year old spots in the blink-of-an-eye that's transpired since 1945 is utterly beyond me.
2.26.2006 6:04pm
Brandonks (mail) (www):
Here is another new story from the BBC on a murder of a Jew in France, and the protests attended by "tens of thousands" today in Paris. It was apparently motivated both by anti-semitism and money - "Ilan Halimi, 23, was found naked with horrific injuries, three weeks after he was kidnapped...".
2.26.2006 6:04pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The wickedness of Steyn's column on Nagasaki is largely obscured by its being the received wisdom.
In one night of “conventional” bombing – March 9th – 100,000 Japanese died in Tokyo.
So murdering women and children with nuclear bombs is okay, because we did it with firebombs as well?
A peace without Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been a different kind of peace; the surrender would have been, in every sense, more “conditional”: Japanese militarism would not have been so thoroughly vanquished, nor so obviously responsible for the nation’s humiliation and devastation, and therefore not so irredeemably consigned to history.
Pure speculation. There was little reason to invade Japan; the blockade was on the point of starving the country out, and the power structure favored surrender over a possible Left revolution. The bombing of Japan's cities simply was not necessary to win the war. Blockade would have forced the Japanese to their knees.

Blockade has its own moral issues, as the Germans tried to remind people after World War One. But it is a far cry from incinerating infants. Our war crimes in WW2, by being swept under the rug, have helped us forget that Americans can be war criminals too, and facilitated the influence of the John Woos of the world.
2.26.2006 6:19pm
ER:
Jew hatred in Europe ---> AMERIKKKAN WAR CRIMES IN JAPAN

time elapsed: ~3 hrs

time to file the report with kos
2.26.2006 6:25pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Steyn's right and all of y'all are a bunch of liberal crybabies. 'nuff said.
2.26.2006 6:31pm
Dusty (mail) (www):
Eugene,

Merde in France used to catalogue anecdotal evidence of anti-semitism, though that site started in Nov 2002. Twenty-four references came up when I googled anti-semitism in conjunction with site:merdeinfrance.blogspot.com. There might be more if you use "antisemitism." I checked the first several and they related to French incidents, though some were about French Muslims, which I don't think is what you are really asking about.

To follow from August 2004 onward, when Merde moved to No Pasaran you'd have to do the same search using that site.

Merde and No Pasaran are not for the multiculti crowd and while I don't consider their plethora of anecdotal evidence an indication of it running rampant in France, overly deliberate French denial of it, coupled with what violence there is, the property destruction/defacement and indication of an uptick in Jewish emigration from France, ought to at least hint there is a significant anti-semitism issue there.
2.26.2006 6:45pm
M.A. (mail):
"With that said, one should not use quotation marks, unless it is a direct quote."

Agreed. My apologies for that.
2.26.2006 6:50pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
In what world is noting the fact that the American public of today would not condone nuking Hiroshima or Nagasaki equal to lamenting that fact?

It's called reading comprehension; some of us have it. Read the linked article, it clearly was lamenting that fact, and lamenting that the American public would "not even support" interning the Japanese. As I noted above, I personally believe the bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified under the circumstances, but regardless they were tragedies. That Steyn thinks it's lamentable that our culture would have serious doubts about again unleashing such horror on civilians says a lot about what gets him off. Combine that with his clear obsession with homosexuality and you got one sick dude.

2.26.2006 6:50pm
Glenn W Bowen (mail):
How accurate is Mark Steyn's summary of the magnitude of anti-Semitism in France

according to a friend of mine who has lived and worked in France, it is never to far from the surface.
2.26.2006 6:58pm
JosephSlater (mail):
As a Jew that owns an apartment in Paris (mostly for rental, say you saw this on the V.C. and be eligible for a special rate!) in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, I've never had any problems at all.

And I agree with M.A.'s point about cherry-picking certain events. Bottom line: the visceral hatred of some on the right for France and the French that led us to such proud moments as "freedom fries" and Bill O'Reilly making up the "Paris Business Review" as entirely bogus support that his "boycott" of France was working -- and etc. -- blinds these folks, and makes their claims pretty much worthless regarding any serious issue involving France or, often, Europe generally.
2.26.2006 6:59pm
Charlie Eklund (www):
Greedy Clerk,

Your "reading comprehension" insult was very sweet. A thousand thanks. Just keep doin' what you do and the converts to your way of thinking will continue to number in the dozens.
2.26.2006 7:10pm
PleaseWhy:
Our war crimes in WW2, by being swept under the rug, have helped us forget that Americans can be war criminals too, and facilitated the influence of the John Woos of the world.
-Anderson

I'm confused, American atrocities in Asia unduly encouraged the spread of violent kung fu movies? Unforgivably gave rise to Mission: Impossible II? Shit, we better get out of Iraq before Zarqawi remakes Face/Off.
2.26.2006 7:12pm
tdsj:
I have no idea whether Le Parisien counts as a major newspaper, but it covered the story at the time.

http://www.col.fr/breve-622.html
2.26.2006 7:16pm
DK:
I am not a big Mark Steyn fan, and I never read him except when he's linked on posts like this one.

But IMHO it is ludicrous to claim that an author's opinion that "we need more of the attitudes/war strategy of 1945" is equivalent to a call for the use of nuclear weapons. I mean, come on, Tom Brokaw has made a literary career going on and on about how we need more of the spirit of the 1945 generation. Is Brokaw a wingnut?

IMHO, it is clearly and factually true that we are fighting the war on terror and we fought in Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, the first Gulf War, and Vietnam with a "limited war" strategy quite different from the "total war"/"unconditional surrender" strategy used in WWII. It is not or should not be controversial to point that out to a historically literate audience. And I have heard a great many reasonable conservatives make similar statements, that the problem in Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, etc. is that it doesn't make sense to fight a war when you don't think it's important enough to use the extreme means of total war. In many ways, the Powell Doctrine is based on this: instead of saying there are some wars worth fighting with extreme violence and overwhelming force, and some worth fighting in limited, carefully calibrated ways, Colin Powell has spent a career arguing that we should only fight the wars involving overwhelming force and stay out of the limited wars completely. And I personally think that if we had a little more 1945-style unconditional surrender/fight for a real victory in the first Gulf War, it would have saved both the US and Iraq a lot of trouble and a lot of sanctions-related and combat deaths.

Steyn may well be a despicable wingnut for other reasons; I don't read enough of his work to know. But if saying that our strategy in WWII was better than our strategy in the War on Terror makes you a wingnut, well, I suspect a lot of Democratic veterans and senators must be wingnuts too.
2.26.2006 7:17pm
Stark_Raving_Brad (mail):
Did anyone check the "Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim"? He's not referring to Marie L., also from 2004, is he? Just curious.
2.26.2006 7:20pm
Pendulum (mail):
Eugene,

I googled and found this.

I also remember an article in Azure magazine about inter-religious cooperation in Marseilles; however, the title has slipped my mind, thus doing me little good.
2.26.2006 7:23pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Damn, you got me, PleaseWhy--almost every time that I type "John Yoo," I ask myself, not the movie guy, right?--but alas, not this time.

That said, I would favor placing John Woo in charge of our detention policies, and placing John Yoo in charge of overseeing simulated violence.
2.26.2006 7:32pm
Marc :
Last I remember, the french were the only country who willingly compiled lists of jews for the nazis before they were requested to do so. also, the museum of the deported on the ile de la cite right behind notre dame for some reason does not mention that most of the deported were jews. years later they are just noble french victims of the germans.

does this make them antisemitic today? not necessarily, but the ingrained insularity of their culture has preserved this sense, as well as made the incredibly stratified french society far more vulnerable to riots.
2.26.2006 7:41pm
En_Revanche (mail):
Two points:

1). Used Yahoo.fr to search for 'Sebastien Selam'. Only references found were in blogs and music pubs (apparently he was a popular DJ).

2). Several years ago, when in France, I became friendly with a Jewish family. Their goal was to get out of France because, as they said, it was like living in Germany in 1933. They now live in Florida.
2.26.2006 8:46pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Your "reading comprehension" insult was very sweet. A thousand thanks. Just keep doin' what you do and the converts to your way of thinking will continue to number in the dozens.

If I have converted "dozens" I would be quite proud. Unlike Christian and Muslim fundamentalists, I have no interest in converting anyone -- not everyone thinks like a right-wing fanatic. Further, were I interested in converting people to my view of the world, I would not be trying by posting anonymously under a dated pseudonym on Professor Volokh's site. Thanks for the compliment however. Much appreciated.

2.26.2006 8:52pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Last I remember, the french were the only country who willingly compiled lists of jews for the nazis before they were requested to do so.

Don't forget Hannah Arendt on the eagerness of the Romanians, who appalled the Germans by loading up Jews in sealed boxcars and just letting them starve/asphyxiate therein, rather than delivering them to death camps for a more Teutonically managed death.
2.26.2006 8:54pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Charlie -- by the way, I enjoyed your response to my argument on the merits; I assume that your failure to respond evidences that you have no response. Nice try though.
2.26.2006 8:54pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Lots of "racist" slung about, here.

Reminds me of the definition of racist as one who has won an argument with a liberal.
2.26.2006 9:28pm
BU2L (mail):
Seriously, where is Ambrose Bierce when you need him...
2.26.2006 10:07pm
hey (mail):
There have been ongoing disputes between some Jewish droups and the French government as to the extent of anti-semitism in France, the motives for attacks on Jews, and the identities of who exactly is attacking Jews in France.

Canada's National Post had a series of articles on French Jews immigrating to Canada due to a deteriorating situation in France. The series highlighted, especially in its first article, complaints that assaults and arson against the Jewish community tend to not be viewed as anti-semitic unless there is overwhelming evidence. The articles by Mireille Silcoff are here http://tinyurl.com/7te3g , http://tinyurl.com/7kptk, and http://tinyurl.com/hk9f3.

Le Monde's site search as well as Google does not provide any link to a story on Sebastien Sellam's murder. Lemonde.fr does have two links, not around the time for his murder, that seem to be about his music (they are subscriber only, so I was unable to read them, despite being fluent in French). Lefigaro.fr's archives search provides no article containing "Sebastien Sellam" or "Sebastien Selam".

The anecdotal evidence presented in The National Post series does seem disturbing, especially the mandates by a Jewish private school that no student is to wear any distinguishbale symbol of Judaism when walking to school, not to dress in a stereotypical "Jappy" manner. Further disturbing is that a Jewish private school feels it necessary to have no distinguishing markings on its building that would identify it as a Jewish place.

I am disturbed that so many commenters here felt it necessary to dispute an author's reliability for civilly stated views that are for the most part centre right, if not purely centrist. A complete unwillingness to deal with people who disagree with you slightly and who are discussing the appropriate way to conduct a war is not the sign of a broad or deep mind. Ad hominems with respect to one's genocidal intent when arguing for a more agressive prosecution of a war is not a "centre-left" stance. It is rather more reminiscent of Students for a Democratic Society or the Winter Soldier hearings: a radical leftist stance that is in no way interested in rational discourse.
2.26.2006 10:11pm
just me:
In response to this comment:


he perpetuates the vile inhuman slander that being gay is inherently self-destructive and inevitably leads to death.


It's only slander if it's not true. But being gay does lead to death. As does being straight. Being human leads to death, as far as I can tell.

Now, if someone wishes to defined premature death, and then look at different demographics, we can get all controversial and stuff. But as for the plain "leads to death" statement, well, gee, of course we all die.
2.26.2006 10:25pm
BU2L (mail):
Left-handed people, if I'm not mistaken, die earlier than right-handed people. It's obviously not a moral judgment - the world is kind of rigged against them - but there it is.

I'm pretty sure that gays also have a lower life expectancy. Again, it's not a moral judgment, but just a very sad statistic. I don't know if that's how Steyn meant it - maybe it's not - but quoting a fact can hardly be bigoted.
2.26.2006 10:49pm
spectator:
If the number of times major newspapers report a brutal murder is indicative of a whole country's predilections, should we conclude that the USA is anti-Catholic?
2.27.2006 3:14am
Jack S. (mail) (www):
Having lived in France for a long period of time and having read other fictions of Mark Steyn (who may have never even set foot in the country), there is little if any truth to this article.

While I am sure anti-semitism exists in France, anti-Arab behavior is far more prevalant. Refusal to enter nightclubs, difficulty in the job market, and a general regard as an inferior race is commonplace for Arabs. Generally not for Jews.

Is it any wonder that the 16th Arrondissment of Paris is dominated by Jews and the 18th/19th are dominated by Northern and sub-Saharan Africans? Anyone see the the socioeconomic differences there? Visit the law schools of the country too. Predominantly white, few Arabs and extremely proportionate Jewish representation. (I won't say disproportionate since i don't have exact numbers).

Prof. Volokh, while I appreciate the democratic nature of your Blog, I find it hard to believe that you give much press time at all to a writer who is best at distorting or even inventing the facts in order to present an ideology. Note his article(s) on the Paris riots from 4 months back. A middle age Arab conspiracy coming to life now? Please...Steyn is the pot calling the kettle black. Anti-arab, anti everything unless it's about him.
2.27.2006 6:18am
digital commuter (mail):
To TDSJ:

The Sébastien Sellam on the google search you linked doesn't appear to offer any major French news outlets as sources for the story.

It mostly refers you to various Jewish sources and to French chat rooms. One such had people complaining that they just heard about the story from some private source.

There are also links to Sébastien Sellam as a disc jokey and the kinds of songs he played.


It seems that Steyn is right about the story getting scant coverage.
2.27.2006 10:21am
digital commuter (mail):
btw: I have lived in France and know people there and I have a message to all you doubters that anti-Semitism in France is exaggerated.

Put on a yarmulka and walk down any French street during the day and see how people will treat you. However, I wouldn't advise you to do it in an Arab area since you may be risking a physical attack.
2.27.2006 10:26am
JosephSlater (mail):
Jack S.:

Nice post, good to see some rationality amidst the Europhobes.
2.27.2006 11:10am
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
I think we need to learn more about the context of this. As has been mentioned, Steyn isn't exactly reliable when it comes to Muslim related issues.

Thanks to the person above, for reminding me of Mark Steyn's embarassing attempt to spread the Urban Legend of Muslim schoolchildren (who knew what was to happen) in an adjacent building laughing &snaping photographs as the two towers fell. The Muslim revamp of the "Jews knew about 9/11" conspiracy smear, apparantly doesen't prevent one from acceptance in polite conservative company.

My favorite Steyn quote, was when he was writing about the D.C. sniper case, and trying to tie it into the greater war on terror, he said "Any time a Muslim holds up a convenience store it should be considered Jihad"

Darling of the Right.
2.27.2006 11:28am
VFB (mail):
Dustin:

Can you back up your assertion as to “Mark Steyn's embarassing attempt to spread the Urban Legend of Muslim schoolchildren (who knew what was to happen) in an adjacent building laughing &snaping photographs as the two towers fell.”?

As I noted above, he did write in the Daily Telegraph in November 2001, “Among the more interesting Muslim items this past year was a story that appeared last October 11 in the Journal News, a suburban New York newspaper. It concerned a student in a Brooklyn high school, who, on September 6, 2001, stared out of the window and told his teacher: "See those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week." Mark Steyn, We Must All Be More Sensitive, Daily Telegraph, 14/09/2002. However, that is not the same thing as what you are claiming he said. While I have not read everything that he wrote, unless you show me otherwise, I am fairly confident that you are misrepresenting Mark Steyn.
2.27.2006 4:29pm
ray_g:
I have read a lot of Mark Steyn, and I assure everyone that those denouncing him in this forum are grossly distorting what he has written, to such a degree that it is very nearly literally nauseating. Go to Mr. Steyn's web site, read and decide for yourself.
2.27.2006 5:33pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Anderson,

There definitely was a valid point to nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Check out the book Tenozan by George Feifer, about the battle of Okinawa, and look up the word "Teruachi" in the index.

Terauchi was the Japanese field marshall in charge of the Imperial Japanese Army's southern group of forces, which included Burma, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and Singapore. He had received instructions to begin the massacres of all Allied prisoners of war, interned Allied civilians, and all Allied civilians his forces could catch, effective when the British invaded Japanese-occupied Malaya. That was planned for late September 1945.

The Allies knew this because they had intercepted and decoded the radio message from Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo to Field Marshal Teruachi. This had major, major, repercussons.

The A-bombs were only one of those. Had those not induced surrender, or been unavailable, the worst case scenario would have happened. Here it is:

"The United States government decided on June 18, 1945, to commit genocide on Japan with poison gas if its government did not surrender after the nuclear attacks approved in the same June 18 meeting. This was discovered by military historians Norman Polmar and Thomas Allen while researching a book on the end of the war in the Pacific. Their discovery came too late for inclusion in the book, so they published it instead in the Autumn 1997 issue of Military History Quarterly.

Polmar &Allen ran across references to this meeting in their research and put in a Freedom of Information Act request for related documents. Eventually they received, too late for use in their book, a copy of a document labeled "A Study of the Possible Use of Toxic Gas in Operation Olympic." The word "retaliatory" was PENCILED in between the words "possible" and "use".

Apparently there were only five of these documents circulated during World War Two. The document was requested by the Chemical Corps for historical study in 1947. In an attempt to "redact" history, another document was issued to change all the copies to emphasize retaliatory use rather than the reality of the US planning to use it offensively in support of the invasion of Japan.

The plan called for US heavy bombers to drop 56,583 tons of poison gas on Japanese cities in the 15 days before the invasion of Kyushu, then another 23,935 tons every 30 days thereafter. Tactical air support would drop more on troop concentrations.

The targets of the strategic bombing campaign were Japanese civilians in cities. Chemical Corps casualty estimates for this attack plan were five million dead with another five million injured. This was our backup to nuking Japan into surrender. If the A-bombs didn't work, we were going to gas the Japanese people from the air like bugs, and keep doing so until Japanese resistance ended or all the Japanese were dead.

Genocide is defined by treaty as the murder of a large number of people of an identifiable group, generally a nationality or religion, which number comprises an appreciable percentage of the total group. Five million dead is 6.4% of then 78 million people in the Japanese Home Islands, so this proposed gas attack would certainly have qualified as genocide.

What brought the United States government to that decision was the prospective casualties of a prolonged ground conquest of Japan against suicidal resistance, after Japanese Kamikaze attacks and suicidal ground resistance elsewhere had thoroughly dehumanized them to us.

The American people certainly would have supported such tactics at the time, especially as Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issued orders a month later, provided to us courtesy of code-breaking (MAGIC), to murder all Allied prisoners of war, all interned Allied civilians, and all other Allied civilians Japanese forces could catch in occupied China, the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Malaya, etc., starting with the impending British invasion of Malaya in late September 1945. The Imperial Japanese Army was every bit as evil as the Nazi SS, and more lethal. They'd probably have killed at least an additional 50 million people, more than had died in all of World War Two to that point, before Allied armies could eliminate Japanese forces overseas.

The horror would not have stopped there. An estimated ONE THIRD of the Japanese people (25-30 million) would have died of starvation, disease, poison gas and conventional weapons during a prolonged ground conquest of Japan. The Japanese Army planned on locking up the Emperor, seizing power and fighting to the bitter end once the US invasion started. Thank God for the atom bomb - killing 150,000 - 200,000 Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved 75-80 million lives. One of whom would have been the writer's father, an infantry lieutenant who survived Okinawa.

So the United States has within living memory made a decision to commit genocide on a whole people as a matter of state policy. We didn't have to do it because the Japanese Emperor knew we'd do it."

I wrote that. You can check the sources for yourself.
2.27.2006 6:24pm
BillT (mail) (www):
There's quite a bit on M. Sellam's murder;m all the sources I found said it happened on 23 November 2003. He was a disk jockey--Sellam was his nom de DJ--he was born Sébastien Guéry and was twenty-two when he died.

Sometimes knowing French comes in handy...
2.28.2006 1:05pm
mls (mail):
Am I the only one reading who is old enough to remember all the "anti-semitism is growing in France" articles and news stories in the 70s and 80s? This sort of thing comes up all the time -- the only thing new is trying to tie it to Muslims rather than other French people.
2.28.2006 2:44pm
temp:
Hey, WAKE up strawman whackers. What the hell have you people been talking about for 70 comments. Read what Steyn wrote:

"a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim . . .Yet no major French newspaper carried the story"

DOH! That's right, keep doing research on different spellings of "Sebastien" and "Selam".
2.28.2006 9:47pm
philippe (mail):
Quite late on this, but I remember the story quite well.
tdjs naiiled it in this comment


yes, his murder isn't an urgan legend. There's just some ambiguity about what role anti-semitism played in the murder. The Ha'aretz story examines the issue pretty fully.

The short version: victim and murderer were old friends who had had a falling out. Murderer was drug-addicted and crazy and jealous of victim and also anti-semitic. Victim's mother believes the murder was motivated by anti-semitism, and she's upset that it didn't get more coverage, and she's upset that murderer was judged insane. But at least some people (including some French Jewish organizations) believe that it wasn't really predominantly motivated by anti-semitism
(Sellam murderer was crazy in the true meaning of the word, interned several times)
It's true that it was not widely covered in the major medias, but for Le Parisien (Paris main local daily), because it has been considered like just an 'ordinary' gruesome murder. Note also that it's not uncommon for french news paper to keep the real names of victims a secret (a form of respect for the relatives). In that case, some articles reported the murder but did not give Sellam's name. (and thus do not show up on a google search).
I wont comment on Steyn's anlysis accuracy (as a frenchman I may be suspected of being biased...), but I cant comment on Iliam Halimi murder. That one was hugely reported and commented. by the press, the politicians and the governement. Steyn's claim that the antisemitic dimension of the case has been denied is just plain false. The investigative magistrate has explicitly raised the racist motive among the charges. the Pdt, the PM, the Interior Minister, the whole press acknowledged and condemned Halimi's rapt and murder as motivated by antisemitism (and greed. The assumption of the criminals being : jews = a wealthy community that will pay). Tens of thousands people rallied in 'silent marches' in several french cities this week end.
3.2.2006 9:02am