French Public Ready to Crack Down on Criminals:

A pair of articles from the Sept. 30-Oct. 6 issue of France-Amerique (Le Figaro's American weekly) offer some cause for hope that France is getting ready to pull itself out of its downward spiral. Last November, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy referred to the young rioters in the French housing projects as "racaille" ("scum" or "rabble"). At time, the chattering classes were outraged, in part because the racaille that Sarkozy was talking about were almost all immigrants (or children of immigrants) from North Africa or West Africa. But the racaille remark turned out not to be a mega-gaffe, as the intelligentsia had predicted. To the contrary, Sarkozy's tough talk about youthful criminals has proved to be enormously popular. A new poll shows that 77% of the French public (including 74% of persons aged 18-24) agree that the French system is too lenient on juvenile delinquents. The agreements cuts across all demographics and party lines.

Le Figaro suggests that the racaille comment was a brilliant, deliberate political move by Sarkozy: while many French citizens realize that France's statist economic system needs to liberalize, they are reluctant to confront the issue publicly. By proposing crack-downs on young criminals, Sarkozy has made himself the leader on a topic of national near-consensus, and thereby shifted the focus away from his economic ideas. Le Figaro credits Sarkozy for realizing that if the French want a their next president to be a mommy who will protect them from the outside world, Sarkozy will never be able to out-mommy Segolene Royal, the leading Socialist candidate (who, within the French Socialist Party context, leans to the right). Accordingly, Sarkozy is running as the daddy candidate, who will take control of the housing projects and suburbs which have been turned into criminal havens, beyond the reach of French law.

Sources: Alexis Brezet, "Sarkozy: le pari du peuple" & Judith Waintraub, "La justice n'est pas assez severe selon 77% des Francais."

A. Zarkov (mail):
The Europeans are starting to have second thoughts about “multiculturalism.” In some places, the unspeakable word can be heard: “repatriation.”
10.16.2006 5:58pm
gab (mail):
In other news, American continues in its downward spiral, as FOX cans sportscaster Steve Lyons for racist remarks. Here's the quote, you make the call:

Lyons then said, "Lou is habla- ing some Español there, and I'm still looking for my wallet. I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit close to him now."

Maybe Kopel should critique his own country before making forays into territories he knows little about. Stick to assault weapons Dave.
10.16.2006 6:17pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I find it highly amusing that Dave is all about arming everybody, including presumably the French. Yet he skims over the inconvenient fact that in all those weeks of horrible rioting last year in France exactly one person was killed. Oh, the horrible violence and death!
10.16.2006 6:32pm
In other news, American continues in its downward spiral, as FOX cans sportscaster Steve Lyons for racist remarks.

Uh, Lyons didn't make any racist remarks. Maybe Fox genuinely failed to understand the context, maybe they were just looking for an excuse to get rid of him, maybe your post was astoundingly off-topic, but in any event, you've failed to make a complete presentation of the facts.
10.16.2006 6:57pm
gab (mail):
Hey Steve your comprehension is non-existent. FOX said it was racist, thus fired Lyons. You can find the whole story online, but if they fired him, the comments had to be racist, right? At least in their opinion.

I won't even explain the rest because it would "like teaching pigs to sing." It would waste my time, and annoy you.
10.16.2006 7:13pm
You sound like you might be a good replacement for Lyons, actually.
10.16.2006 7:29pm
Is there a link anywhere to this 'story' about Steve Lyons and his remarks? Surely what was posted above was neither racist nor cause to be fired.
10.16.2006 8:11pm
Nathan_M (mail):
Is there a link anywhere to this 'story' about Steve Lyons and his remarks? Surely what was posted above was neither racist nor cause to be fired.

You'll have to sit through an ad, but
10.16.2006 8:21pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I find it highly amusing that Dave is all about arming everybody, including presumably the French.

Not really. Give them to the Germans and skip the middleman.
10.16.2006 8:40pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
You don't have to sit through an ad, you can read about Steve Lyon's firing at deadspin, but I am unable to link. /trying-to-make-sense-of-anything-involving -steve-lyons-207843.php>.

Didn't sound rascist to me, but I think South Park isn't offensive, so.....

Circling back to Kopel's post, French electoral news is pretty uninteresting.
10.16.2006 9:46pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
Sorry, here's the link.
10.16.2006 9:48pm
Michael B (mail):
Another aspect of the French situation, Policy Review, The French Path to Jihad.
10.16.2006 10:35pm
A. Zarkov:

The Europeans are starting to have second thoughts about “multiculturalism.” In some places, the unspeakable word can be heard: “repatriation.”

For the record, the French education system isn't quite one to be cited in example when it comes to multiculturalism. History classes, even in the overwhelmingly "multicultural" run-down suburban areas, still insist on France being the land of the "French race". History books in classrooms still start with: "Nos ancêtres, les Gaulois..." (Our ancestors, the Gallic people...) So far for Abdullah, Mohammed and Fatima.

As to DK's post, comparing the French racial dilemma to other countries (such as, for example, Canada, which has a much higher racial mix and immigration ratio but deals with much less racial tensions) points to other factors than ways to curb the youth crime rate (racial ghettos, failure of racial acculturation, endemic poverty in the suburbs, etc.) However, DK's post point to a valuable parameter: how the French feel about the problem and its solution. It seems, to a majority of them, repression is the path the nation needs to take. Or so does the staff of France-Amérique, a conservative paper, interpreting polls.
10.17.2006 12:04am
To make sure my comment to Mr. Zarkov isn't misunderstood, it should read as meaning this: France never did lead the walk to multiculturalism. Reading even the most liberal papers over there, I see no reason to believe it even ever flirted with the idea.
10.17.2006 12:15am
Thanks for the links. What an unbelievable story.
10.17.2006 12:23am
snuh (mail):
the factual evidence to support this post seems weak. a finding in a poll that 77% of people think the "system" is too lenient on young offenders could probably be repeated in every industrialised country. fwiw, after 5 minutes of googling, here's britain (71%) and canada (77%). moreover, your post presents no evidence to show sarkozy's comments were "enormously popular", as it provides no evidence to show the french public's opinion of the juvenile justice system changed either as a result of his comments or as a result of the riots.
10.17.2006 1:28am
A. Zarkov (mail):

Notice I said Europe and not France. Of course France is part of Europe, but as you point out they don’t buy into multiculturalism. If we believe the press, many North African illegal migrants try desperately to reach the UK by hopping on to trains (at great personal risk) going through the Channel Tunnel. They know the British police are much less likely to stop them on the street. They know it’s harder to get deported than it is in France.

My comment was motivated by the following article in the International Herald Tribune, Moderate Europeans Losing Faith in Islam. The lead line reads:

BRUSSELS -- Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: More people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values.
10.17.2006 1:51am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The Europeans are starting to have second thoughts about “multiculturalism.”
Well, the "racaille" seem to be pretty much stuck on monoculturalism. Building a pluralistic society is a two-way street.
10.17.2006 3:04am
snuh (mail):
incidentally, the entirely gratuitous description of the french as wanting their "president to be a mommy who will protect them from the outside world" would seem to apply rather well to americans who voted for george bush.
10.17.2006 6:16am
A. Zarkov (mail):
From the Urban Dictionary:

A racaille is a French thug, usually of Arab origins, who is distinguishable by his clothes: a Lacoste cap, a collared t-shirt, bright coloured shell suit bottoms preferably tucked into nike socks, and a phone hanging from his neck.
10.17.2006 8:11am
A. Zarkov (mail):
From the Guardian

"Sarko" made headlines with his declarations that he would "karcherise" the ghettos of "la racaille" - words the U.S. press, with glaring inadequacy, has translated to mean "clean" the ghettos of "scum." But these two words have an infinitely harsher and insulting flavor in French.

"Karcher" is the well-known brand name of a system of cleaning surfaces by super-high-pressure sand-blasting or water-blasting that very violently peels away the outer skin of encrusted dirt - like pigeon-shit - even at the risk of damaging what's underneath.
10.17.2006 8:16am
American conservatives love to decry multiculturalism, "tolerance," and so forth. You would think therefore that they would love the French stance on these issues, and perhaps even admire the French for that.

Interestingly they prefer to describe the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys, and to blame France's issues with Muslims on the "weakness" of multiculturalism and tolerance.

It's almost as if they derive some psychological satisfaction from thinking of the French as weaklings, independent of actual facts about the world...

Now why would that be the case?

(thinks briefly about gun nuts...)

10.17.2006 8:21am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
American conservatives decry the Leftist one-sided approach to "multiculturalism" is couched in class warfare rhetoric, playing sycophant to the cultures the Left likes and demonizing those the Left doesn't. Leftist "tolerance" is campus conservatives shouting down conservative speakers and applauding liberal speakers.

Real multuculturalism is cultures peacefully coexisting with each other. Real tolerance is people getting along with people despite real or perceived shorcomings.

The French government can play tough with teenage punks or girls who want to wear the hijab to school. But France's opposition to the Iraq War and its apparent leniency toward Palestinian terror (not that the US has been tough enough...) attract the surrender monkey rhetoric.
10.17.2006 11:50am
Hermenauta (mail) (www):
Any good History book will show very quickly the monocultural approach of France as a colonial power.

I really can´t track any clear multicultural trace from the country of "La Gloire"...and in some sense I believe that the "closing" of french culture is going to grow more intense as long as anglo culture continues to reclaim the attention of the world.

France is very well known for it´s concern with the contamination of the french idiom by english vocabules. It´s really ironic that in XIX century Brazil, we had the same problem with french as a language...
10.17.2006 12:46pm
markm (mail):
"Nos ancêtres, les Gaulois..." (Our ancestors, the Gallic people...) If I correctly recall the history, "Nos ancêtres, les Boches" would be more accurate. The Franks were Germans who took Gaul from a weakening Roman Empire. They mingled their language with Latin and their DNA with their Gallic serfs. They eventually developed a language and culture that are quite distinct from the Germans, but neither language nor culture owes anything significant to the Gauls.
10.17.2006 1:35pm
raj (mail):
I don't do French, but it is somewhat ironic that, in the 1990s, the WSJ's idiotorial page was lambasting Germany for its rather draconian policies regarding naturalization of non-ethnic Germans--primarily Turks who were either guest workers or descendents of guest workers. In 2000, Germany loosened up on its naturalization policies somewhat, but, based on the French experience in recent years, I tend to doubt that the WSJ's idiotorial page has continued its lambasting of Germany.
10.17.2006 1:37pm
France may be many things (cheese eating surrender monkeys come to mind), but they are not exactly like many other liberal/socialist countries in that they value their culture more. They have, for instance, a ministry of culture that can fine businesses for using "americanisms" in advertising. France is also not as ridiculously PC as Englad. A woman reporter put a veil on and went through an international flight checkpoihnt in england. Nobody checked her face and asked her to remove her veil so they could see if she matched the passport. In france, she was checked multiple times - sans veil.

France is kind of stuck here. On the one hand, they are incredibly chauvinistic and superior regarding their oh so wonderful culture (which apparently, they need to FINE people in order to maintain), but on the other hand want not to be seen as mean to the muslims.
10.17.2006 2:00pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Some people refer to the French as “cheese eating surrender monkeys” (hey there’s “monkey” again) to protest their foreign policy, not their domestic behavior, although we do like to make fun of their cultural chauvinism. On the home front they have been pretty tough dealing with terrorists unlike the UK. France simply pursues its national interest, and they don’t much care if their actions make life difficult for the US or even the rest of Europe. The basic problem with France is that it’s a washed up super power. Eisenhower noted in his autobiography that the French didn’t want to accept the reality of their post war status in the world. I think it would make sense to replace France with Japan on the UN Security Council. It would more reflect economic reality of France’s $1.8 trillion GDP versus Japan’s $4 trillion. Although one should note that on a per capita basis they’re about equal.
10.17.2006 2:59pm
Zarkov, in general you are correct. French police (gendarmerie etc.) are pretty tough, and their legal syste, is tougher, in general, than England's. However, there has been a recent trend for them to ignore violence and violent crimes, when it was/is perpetrated by disaffected young muslim youths. BUt, i think the french people are pretty fed up with crime, and law-free zones, and the situation is turning around.

Australia is another country that at first kind of rolled over in regards to violence and threats, but is now getting tougher.
10.17.2006 3:26pm
markm: Your historical comment on French people's ancestry is correct (Franks rather than Gallic... although "Boches" is more of a familiar pejorative term put aside for Germans). I was refering to the common french idiom "Nos ancêtres les Gaulois" as this figure of speech is still in use in French history school books. The reason is simple: the nation of France is more or less the land the Gallic people once lived in. In that matter, the national history is largely linked to the Gallic people more for territorial and cultural reasons than in a strict genetic perspective.

One could hardly ignore the parallel between France as seen from inside and the famous Astérix le Gaulois illustrated series. It is part of a vast literature depicting France fighting against invading forces.

A. Zarkov:

Notice I said Europe and not France.

I had noticed. But I understood your comment (to recall it: 'The Europeans are starting to have second thoughts about “multiculturalism.”') must have included France in the European lot, accordingly to DK's original post (which addressed a French, rather than an European problem).

Also, although I can easily consider "to karcherise" being a rougher term than "to clean", I can't agree with your claim that 'racaille' "[has] an infinitely harsher and insulting flavor in French [as scum (its English equivalent)]". Being a French speaking individual myself, I must disagree with that assertion. Racaille is not a lovely word, but certainly not harsher or much more insulting than scum.
10.17.2006 4:23pm
A. Zarkov (mail):

I don’t make the claim that “racaille” carries more insult than “scum,” that comes from the Guardian. Note it says: But these two words have an infinitely harsher and insulting flavor in French …”

Now I agree that “scum” is pretty insulting, but not being a native speaker of French, I can’t judge whether that’s worse than “racaille.” People intimately familiar with current French language and culture can best address these fine points.
10.17.2006 7:05pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
So were Sarkozy's insults deserved?
10.18.2006 2:27am
So were Sarkozy's insults deserved?

Good question. As many interpret Sarkozy's comments in a different way: left wing movements tend to see them as an insult to the global population of the ghettos, many see them as strictly directed at the delinquants, others see that as an insult to intelligence as, clearly, repression never did the thing to straighten the situation since the 60s.
10.18.2006 2:34pm