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  • Paris riots: ‘justifiable’ means to an end?


    by Sunny
    14th November, 2005 at 4:59 am    

    Gary Younge wrote a piece in yesterday’s Observer arguing that the riots in France may have been justified in order to force change through French society. He makes a powerful case, using the situation of African-Caribbeans in America.

    Those who wondered what French youth had to gain by taking to the streets should ask what they had to lose. Unemployed, socially excluded, harassed by the police and condemned to poor housing, they live on estates that are essentially open prisons.

    He also points out that the riots have had the desired effect in waking up Chirac from his slumber.

    “We need to respond strongly and quickly to the undeniable problems facing many inhabitants of the deprived neighbourhoods,” said President Chirac. From the man who once said that immigrants had breached the “threshold of tolerance” and were sending French workers “mad” with their “noise and smell” this was progress indeed.
    ….
    After the 1967 riots in American cities, President Johnson set up the Kerner commission. It concluded: “What white Americans have never fully understood - but what the Negro can never forget - is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” How else was such a damning indictment of racial discrimination in the US ever going to land on the president’s desk?

    There is some truth in that, though I said earlier I did not support the violence. Younge acknowledges the criminal element, but says the end may justify the means in this case.


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    Filed in: Current affairs,Race politics,The World






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    1. Bikhair — on 14th November, 2005 at 5:39 am  

      No thanks, especially for the Muslims.

    2. Inquisitor — on 14th November, 2005 at 6:00 am  

      The fact that we have to even forward arguments on the value of these ‘riots’ in terms of its being able to effect change speaks volumes of the extent to which the system along with its consequences are deemed to be natural and that the attempt to address any evils is unnatural till we are forced to contend with the consequences.

    3. Inquisitor — on 14th November, 2005 at 6:58 am  

      Our not supporting one means to solve a problem can only be supported if we have other equally effective means via which the same ends can be realised.

    4. Chris — on 14th November, 2005 at 9:03 am  

      Inquisitor - so any means justify a ‘noble’ end?
      Hmmmm….

    5. Chris — on 14th November, 2005 at 9:04 am  

      Ooops - sorry a bit early - so a ‘noble’ end justifies any means??
      Hmmmm…..

    6. StrangelyPsychedelique — on 14th November, 2005 at 11:05 am  

      >>Ooops - sorry a bit early - so a ‘noble’ end justifies any means??

      Yeah - what Chris said.

      I think the word ‘justification’ is a bit of an idealistic term. The riots in my eyes would only be justified if no one was killed, no cars were burnt and no innocent bystanders were injured.

      However I would say that they might have a positive effect. A positive effect through (mostly) negative means.

      It takes a nasty event or series of events for politicians to wake from slumber , be it a rail disaster or a riot.
      A peaceful march of hundreds of thousands didnt sway the govt’s stance on the Iraq war, would mass scale anarchy and ‘active resistance’ have changed things?

      Perhaps perhaps not. What we should remember is to call a spade a spade and criminal activity is criminal activity. We shouldnt try to gel it over.
      In this case it appears violent action has paid off in getting the right kind of attention of the authorities. It isnt pleasant but sometimes you have to bite your lip,accept and admit it. “YES ITS SH*T & YES IT WORKS”

      You could link this into a larger debate - does terrorism pay off too? (eg: Madrid/Spanish govt change).

    7. Steve M — on 14th November, 2005 at 11:13 am  

      There is considerable racism and injustice in French society that needs to be addressed and hopefully these riots will cause a rethink of the relationship of the French North Africans with the rest of society.

      However, it is unfortunate that criminal means were employed by the rioters compared to, say, demonstration marches which are the normal (and often successful) way of dealing with grievances in France. It is particularly unfortunate because the riots will serve to further strengthen the extreme right wing who, in particular, will make a linkage between the rioters and radical Islamists. The radicals will also gain strength form the riots and I fear that these events may lead to a further polarisation of French society with potentially hazardous consequences for all of us. The ‘playing politics’ that we’ve seen from Chirac, Sarkozy, et al could add more fuel to this polarisation.

    8. Siddhartha — on 14th November, 2005 at 11:22 am  

      There’s no denying that the ultimate net result of the Toxteth and Brixton riots in England, my England of the 80s was one of good.

    9. ContraryMary — on 14th November, 2005 at 12:49 pm  

      Siddhartha - you make a very vaild point.

      It might be ok for us to sit in our cosy environments and pontificate that it would be better if France’s ethnic minorities were to demonstrate with a march or legal organised protest, but the fact of the matter - IMO - is that these riots are a guage of just how frustrated the ethnic youth is in France.

      These riots have caught the attention of the global media, and hopefully embarrassed France into doing something about the causes of the riots - exclusion, lack of opportunity, police harrassment - rather than ignoring it.

      France’s 1998 World Cup win, with its multi ethnic team, was held up as an example of how France can assimilate immigrants successfully. Seven years later and it’s quite obvious nothing has changed, and this was an exception.

      Matthieu Kassovitz’s La Haine (one of my favourite ever films), details the kind of life facing France’s immigrant youth, and that came out in 1995! I’m a pacifist at heart but if riots is what it takes to bring France into the 21st century, then so be it.

    10. Bijna — on 14th November, 2005 at 1:17 pm  

      http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/473

      “It appears that a number of the schools that
      were reported arsoned last week are Jewish.

      The authorities have chosen not to reveal this
      information and have asked Jewish
      organisations not to do so either.”

    11. Al-Hack — on 14th November, 2005 at 1:42 pm  

      I was wondering how long it would take for someone to paint this as anti-semitic. Bijna - some Mosques have also been forebombed, fancy that!

    12. j0nz — on 14th November, 2005 at 2:42 pm  

      Sonny,

      I thought I’d better own up!

      Here

      jonz

    13. Steve M — on 14th November, 2005 at 2:45 pm  

      Touchy, touchy, Al-Hack. Bijna has just reported what he has read. Synagogues and Jewish schools and centres have been targetted. No mention has been made of anti-semitism.

      Two churches have been set ablaze and a Mosque in Carpentras has been attacked with two Molotov cocktails.

      Clearly this is the work of atheists, militant agnostics and Satanists.

    14. Al-Hack — on 14th November, 2005 at 3:27 pm  

      Steve M, going by the insinuation in that article, you can see what I’m getting at. Anyone attacking a place of worship is criminal.

      On the subject of race, there is no better writer than Gary Younge at the mo… big up!

    15. Siddhartha — on 14th November, 2005 at 3:28 pm  

      So is Burgess saying, in that awful grammatical mess of a refute, that WP is a chemical weapon, or just a weapon or none of the above?

    16. Siddhartha — on 14th November, 2005 at 3:44 pm  

      Also from Burgess:

      An Ablution contributor points us to a comment on a British Asian blog to which I’m not linking, which reads in part as follows (grammatical errors in original):

      So whats wrong with linking to Pickled Politics. Does he think he’s too good?

      And jonz: are you the “Ablution contributor” he’s referring to?

      And finally, this is what White Phosphorus (that non-chemical weapon according to Burgess) does to you:

      Signs and symptoms include irritation of the eyes and the respiratory tract; abdominal pain, nausea, and jaundice; anemia, cachexia, pain, and loosening of teeth, excessive salivation, and pain and swelling of the jaw; skin and eye burns. Phossy jaw must be differentiated from other forms of osteomyelitis. With phossy jaw, a sequestrum forms in the bone and is released from weeks to months later; the sequestra are light in weight, yellow to brown, osteoporotic, and decalcified, whereas sequestra from acute staphylococcal osteomyelitis are sharp, white spicules of bone, dense and well calcified. In acute staphylococcal osteomyelitis, the radiographic picture changes rapidly and closely follows the clinical course, but with phossy jaw the diagnosis sometimes is clinically obvious before radiological changes are discernible. It is good dental practice to take routine X-ray films of jaws, but experience indicates that necrosis can occur in the absence of any pathology that is visible on the roentgenogram.

      From here

    17. j0nz — on 14th November, 2005 at 3:53 pm  

      So whats wrong with linking to Pickled Politics. Does he think he’s too good?

      Might have something to with your ‘Stoners’

    18. j0nz — on 14th November, 2005 at 3:55 pm  

      Not the rasta variety I might add! I’m referring to your Shar’ia lovers.

    19. Siddhartha — on 14th November, 2005 at 3:56 pm  

      jonz: do you pro-war pussycats have a problem with writing in grammatically correct English?

    20. Siddhartha — on 14th November, 2005 at 4:02 pm  

      So jonz: whilst you’re here speaking on Burgess’ behalf, the question remains unanswered:

      WP: is it a chemical weapon, or just a weapon or none of the above?

    21. Sunny — on 14th November, 2005 at 4:04 pm  

      Lmao! j0nz - thanks for that mate. I find it funny Burgess got so riled up by my flippant insult. But I shall humour him, though not with a post by itself. Too busy for that.

      He says:
      How could any sane person possibly construe what I’ve written on the subject in this fashion, when I’ve made such an effort to point out - by multiple links to both weapons experts and the BBC - my belief, and the fact, that white phosphorus is not a chemical weapon?
      http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/11/the_real_prowar.html

      Now, in addition to the post above by Siddhartha, allow me to quote him again:
      Firstly: Many on the opposite side of the spectrum have been pointing with glee to reports that white phosphorus was used as a weapon in Fallujah. This is not in dispute, nor is it prohibited. What is disputed is that it was “used in a massive and indiscriminate way” against civilian targets.
      http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/11/last_wp_post_i_.html

      Right.

      So, it comes down to a narrow definition of what some see as a chemical weapon. I guess that is what his entire argument rests on.

      To also back up what I said, Burgess said this in a previous post on the issue:
      So it appears that the phosphorus claims consist entirely of the testimony of one disaffected ex-soldier, some comments and a few seconds of video provided by a cattle biologist, and, from the same source, some photos that could easily have been manipulated. Again, this is not to say that the claims are necessarily false - but it does call into question their completely uncritical reporting by the Independent.
      http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/11/indy_uncritical.html

      So he’s questioning the validity of the claims. He also quotes some people to muddy the waters further:
      Meanwhile, the Stockholm Spectator casts further doubts on the credibility of Jeff Englehart, the only military source for the RAI documentary’s “phosphorus as weapon” claims:

      And when the American miliatary admits using WP as a weapon in Fallujah. Then he doesn’t say much about that, preferring to highlight other reports that cast doubt merely that it is a chemical weapon. Any denial that it causes plenty of harm? No. Any denial the military used it as a weapon? No. But he prefers to stay away from those facts.

      Instead he tried a typical smear campaign:
      presumably, also opposed the resultant removal of Saddam from power and subsequent Iraqi elections

      No son, try: Are annoyed the government lied and got caught out over claims of WMD in Iraq. Have never apologised for supporting SH before, and have never cared much for the Iraqi dead (they’re all insurgents apparently).

    22. Siddhartha — on 14th November, 2005 at 4:21 pm  

      Hello Scott Burgess:

      A word of advice:

      He who lives by the qualifications, double entendres, noun-modifiers, smokescreening, diversionary non-finite sentences dies by the bollocks.

    23. Sunny — on 14th November, 2005 at 4:33 pm  

      Argh, I’ve made too many grammatical errors above. That’s what happens when you try to do 50 million things at once.

      I also wanted to add one thing. He knows its a weapon (though initially he tried to cast doubts on that, saying it was merely used to illuminate. Then he tried the ‘not a chemical weapon’ approach, but admits its a weapon and was used as such.

      His dispute is: that it was “used in a massive and indiscriminate way” against civilian targets.

      Maybe it wasn’t used massively, we don’t know. But is bombing 10 synagogues any better than bombing 50? He claims he wants to “liberate” Iraqis, but when such nasty weapons are used on them - he is more unhappy about the extent to which such nasty weapons are used, not that they were used at all. How amusing.

    24. Siddhartha — on 14th November, 2005 at 4:44 pm  

      Don’t you just love it when the matter of the extent of use is diverted away by maligning the soldier who blew the whistle.

      And what is he doing here if not downplaying the effects of WP. Its a weapon but it isn’t that bad really. Just a bit of caramelising of the skin.

      To use his own words on himself:
      simply an idiot. Or possibly a cynical liar.

    25. ContraryMary — on 14th November, 2005 at 5:12 pm  

      why do my posts always (all two of them to date) go so hideously off topic? they must be rubbish :- (

    26. Sunny — on 14th November, 2005 at 5:48 pm  

      Lol! Don’t worry about it mate, happens all the time. In fact this one is going off-topic by the looks of it.

      By the way, I see your point and that of Younge, but I’m still not sure. One off riot actions after lots of repression maybe alright, but there is a danger they become regular and legitimised for anything small. I guess we’ll have to look in hindsight in 5 years and be able to see.

    27. jamal — on 14th November, 2005 at 7:03 pm  

      I disagree with this arguement, and this is why.

      The riots in america have caused some impact, but the fact remains that 40 years later, the black man in america is still oppressed by both the state and himself. The level of crime, underachievement and drug abuse in black communities is significantly high. The only difference now is that the black man inside the ghetto also creates, maintains and condones ghettoism. Therefore, to me this suggests that rioting 40 years ago did not liberate the black man in the long term. There has been no end to justify any means!

      If we are to correlate USA and France, then we must assume that the impact of these riots could cause the french ghettos in to be like USA’s in 40 years time. This is no achievement in any significant terms.

      In terms of the french riots themselves i have recently spoken to friends in paris who say that what i have heard in the UK is grossly exaggerated. Their opinion was that france was not burning and that areas of conflict were in fact isolated. Much of the rioting in paris which was actually round the corner from where they lived, was committed by lawless young youths, of which the majority were more interested in causing a bit of havoc rather then fighting a cause.

    28. Bikhair — on 14th November, 2005 at 7:31 pm  

      Jamal,

      “The riots in america have caused some impact, but the fact remains that 40 years later, the black man in america is still oppressed by both the state and himself.”

      You know Jamal, I dont know if you live in the states but after having accomplished some major things in my life, I cannot accept oppression of the black man as an excuse for the absence of the nuclear family, a real and persistent criminal unerclass, and get rich or die trying mentality especially because it stresses getting rich without much achievement.

      I am one of those persoanl resposibility Muslims. You know the forgotten sunnah along with the rest of Prophet’s Sunnah.

      Riots are a fitna, and the Quran says that fitna is worse than killing, so I support the use of deadly force to end them. Keep in mind I dont know what the Sharia has to say about riots, specifically.

      “Much of the rioting in paris which was actually round the corner from where they lived, was committed by lawless young youths, of which the majority were more interested in causing a bit of havoc rather then fighting a cause.”

      I have an uncle who lived in NYC during the violence in HAiti some years ago, not the recent coup d’état, and was reading the New York Times about the conflict. When he finally arrived in Port au Prince, it was a completely different story entirely. It doesnt suprise me that things are being exaggerated or turned on its head in regards to the Paris riots because there are alot of people who want France to suffer especially at the hands of thier Arabs because:
      a) They dont like France
      b) they want further proof that multiculturalism doesnt work
      c) They think France has been too conciliatory to those Palestinians and Arabs in general
      d) they didnt support Saddams ouster
      e) they surrended to the Nazis
      f) they exist

      What is very strange to me is that some right wingers in my country believe that France tried to buy off its Muslim population by not joining the war effort as if to suggest it wanted to go to war but couldnt and had they gone into war these riots wouldnt be taking place. If France were so afraid of thier Muslim populaiton why did they ban the veil or the khimmar in schools?

      What are these riots really about? I am so confused. I hate that.

    29. Sunny — on 14th November, 2005 at 7:34 pm  

      Jamal - that is also my thinking to a certain extent. Much as we may sympathise with that struggle to be recognised and treated equally, the feeling that many of these are simply criminal ganged youths is too much to ignore.

      The only way that Blacks in America, Asians in the UK, Arabs in France etc can expect equal rights is by engaging themselves politically and getting themselves organised to get their voices heard. Over the long term that is.

    30. susano — on 14th November, 2005 at 8:45 pm  

      “Clearly this is the work of atheists, militant agnostics and Satanists.”
      - Steve

      hmmm………Satan

      There most definitiely are some serious Satan believing sickos, at the highest levels of power, and though they might like to take advantage of civil unrest (because they happen to be globalists in favor of a police state), I don’t think the rioters in France have anything to do with that particular agenda. Nor do I think they care about some Islamic agenda, anymore than the L.A. rioters cared about Rodney King. It’s rioting for the hell of it, for the fun of it. Take a few common criminals, mix ‘em up with a bunch of followers, and you get the riot mentality taking over. Just like at a soccer game, or any other situation where violence gets the better of a crowd. The main ingredient required is stupid, unthinking sheep. That said, there are always more intelligent people, with agendas, who can manipulate those sheep for their particular goals. Sheep being sheep, are merely led around by the nose, never the wiser about they’re being used.

    31. susano — on 14th November, 2005 at 8:47 pm  

      s/b: never the wiser about HOW they’re being used.

    32. El Cid — on 14th November, 2005 at 8:49 pm  

      You could link this into a larger debate - does terrorism pay off too? (eg: Madrid/Spanish govt change).

      Look “Strangely Psychedelique”,
      It’s a common misconception, perpetuated by lazy journalism — including the venerable organisation that I work for — that the bombs in Madrid magically altered the Spanish govt.
      Now of course I’m biased — so biased that I get upset when I hear such bollocks passed off as fact. But the fact that I’m a Spanish Brit, who was also there at the time, also makes me more knowledgeable about the subject.
      So consider the following:
      1) Polls showed 90 percent of Spaniards opposed the Iraq war long before 11/3 — that’s 90 percent in a real working democracy, not a Soviet or Ba’athist one.
      2) Polls also showed opinion swinging against the incumbent govt prior to the bombs.
      3) Much of the anger directed towards the Aznar govt was because of the way it handled the aftermath of the bombings (i.e. its unseemly wish to make political capital of the situation by blaming ETA. You’ve got to understand that policy towards ETA was a BIG election issue at the time).
      4) The turnout was a lot higher than normal because, as all parties were keen to emphasise, the bombings were an attack on Spain’s democracy. It was a call to urns — a patriotic duty. And people who don’t normally vote don’t tend to vote Tory, know what i mean guv? That alone — ALONE - made the difference to the result.
      5) Finally, the Spanish troops that were pulled out of Iraq were sent to Afghanistan — hardly a victory for al-qaeda.
      I just wanted to get that off my chest.

    33. jamal — on 14th November, 2005 at 8:52 pm  

      “The only way that Blacks in America, Asians in the UK, Arabs in France etc can expect equal rights is by engaging themselves politically and getting themselves organised to get their voices heard. Over the long term that is.”

      Agreed, we need a voice and a voice that is heard. Maybe PP will be one rung on the ladder?

      However, I still have some reservations when it comes to politics. In my opinion we are not significantly heard and may never be. In my opinion, the system of democracy is not democratic in its entirity and this is where the problems lie. Then there is the inequality within the positions of power within this democratic system, and also the disagreement between those (us) that vote within this system.

      We need more racial/religious/age equality within positions of power and relevant institutions, and an increase in common bonds between the masses. Organisation is the key. However, all I seem to see is the divide and rule strategy working to restrict the majority. What i wonder is whether this system can be changed for the better, or whether a new format is required? Then theres the fear that making such suggestions may caused me to be just brushed aside with the label of revolutionary, jihadist.. blah, blah, blah!

      Whatever is the way forward, more positive role models and ‘people that can’ are needed to make sure we dont follow in the footsteps of france and usa.

    34. susano — on 14th November, 2005 at 8:57 pm  

      El Cid - That’s exactly the understanding that I had (from my perspective here in the USA).

    35. susano — on 14th November, 2005 at 9:42 pm  

      Random thoughts:

      The comparison of the struggle of black Americans to what is happening in France is innacurate. Our black population were not immigrants (though I realize that the immigrants in France now have French children). As everyone knows, they did not arrive here of their own free will. They were AMERICANS and had been for many generations - more generations than most whites. They were claiming THEIR rights in THEIR country. That is very different, for instance, from illegal Mexican immigrants, who don’t like their own government, and demand that US taxpayers (the already over-burdened middle class) support them.

      The left often cry racism where is does not exist, when it comes to immigrants. In this country (USA) it’s about JOBS. In the Slicon Valley, where the pay scale and cost of living has been high, corporations started importing Pakistani and Indian engineers, in large numbers. This was not for a lack of American engineers (black, white, brown) but to drive down wages. So, on that point, Sunny, I disagree with you. Perhaps the situation is differerent in the UK? I can only speak to what’s going here. You have American people who have degrees and good jobs, suddenly told they must work for half the pay, and become “competative” with foreign workers. This causes tremendous hostility toward those foreign workers and immigrants. It’s an economic problem that gets twisted into a racial one, because the immigrants also happen to be from a different culture. The thing is, in California (my example), Hispanic is often the dominating ethnicity. Nobody has a problem with that. They are Americans of Mexican decent, and they are just as pissed off at seeing their state and country turned being brought down to third world standards just so corporations can make higher profits.

      On violence and rioting causing social change: there is no doubt that it does. I’ve often thought about the ’60′s and what happened here. The same can be said for similar situations all over the world. In any broad scale social change, the spectrum of action is wide. From intellectual debate, political organization, education, street violence, to war - it all plays a part and has an impact in the outcome. This is acknowledged in our own Declaration of Independence:

      “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

      Once people arrive at that juncture, things can get ugly.

    36. kstreetfriend.blogspot.com — on 14th November, 2005 at 10:07 pm  

      Paris riots coming to America. . . What is the plight of America’s black males? Consider this.

      I write the following because Tom Birdsong, Assistant Managing Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on Wednesday, November 9, 2005, said, “No one is going to write about your family’s plight.” Thereafter, Mrs. Estelle B. Richman’s staff (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania‘s Secretary of Welfare) became very rude and indifferent to our emergency situation. In fact, Ms. Richman’s chief of staff, Linda Hicks no longer accepted our calls. Christian Bowser actually laughed about our situation. Inez Titus, became even more stubborn with her unlawful position. The Executive Director for Western Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, Tim Cornell (Mrs. Titus’ supervisor) has yet to return any of our calls.

      Nonetheless, a man was shot to death in a cinema lobby shootout after watching gangsta rapper 50 cent’s movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” prompting the Loews Cineplex at the Waterfront in West Homestead (just east of Pittsburgh) to stop showing the film. I was there with my family (common-law wife and three minor children). That is, although determined eligible, my family has again been denied the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (“LIHEAP”) federal entitlement for the fourth or fifth straight year. Without heat during the cold winter months a theater provides temporary shelter (allowing my family opportunity to give relatives “a break” from our nightly sleep-overs).

      What happened at the Waterfront? Shelton Flowers, 30, of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, was shot three times and died later at a local hospital. Flowers had just watched the movie and got into a confrontation with three men in the bathroom. A fight ensued and spilled out into the concessions area, where Flowers was shot. Immediately, Loews Cineplex pulled the movie as a precaution. The R-rated movie is based on Curtis “50-cent” Jackson’s own life which includes drug dealing, time in prison, and getting shot nine times. Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom, Inc., removed billboards for the movie near some inner-city schools after Los Angeles area community leaders complained last month.

      Wilkinsburg, just east of Pittsburgh, is a town that was once synonymous with white supremacy. It is a town that had a mere 502 black residents in 1950 when its population hit 31,000, and only 224 more black residents 10 years later. But, over the next few decades, almost like a prophecy, the black population rose to 90 percent. That is, just a little more than 200 years ago Andrew Levi Levy, Sr. named the town “Africa.”

      …..

      More here:
      http://www.kstreetfriend.blogspot.com

    37. jamal — on 14th November, 2005 at 11:15 pm  

      ^^ the box says leave a comment”, not an essay.

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