Bloggers are taking a closer look at the weeklong riots sweeping through the suburbs of Paris. They're also up in arms over a court ruling on a sex survey written for elementary-school children, and the unceremonious deposal of CNN anchor Aaron Brown.
Paris under siege: Widespread vandalism and arson continued in the impoverished outskirts of Paris on Thursday, marking the eighth straight night of civil unrest in the city's suburbs. The rioting, which began when two teenagers of North African descent were accidentally electrocuted while hiding out from police, has galvanized large swaths of the poor, disenfranchised, heavily Muslim immigrant communities that encircle the city.
"Watts Riots, European Style," christens Menckenite Ace of Spades. As with Watts, many believe the roots of French discontent are plain to see. "This has been a long time coming," says Southern journalist and liberal Ed Cone.
Academic Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist, faults the media for failing to highlight the broader conflicts at work. "The mainstream press doesn't seem to be connecting the dots here, but the continued marginalization, high unemployment and discrimination faced by the large French Muslim community could help push them toward Salafi radicalism," he writes at Informed Comment.
"I originally thought the clashes would peter out from a combination of exhaustion and the colder weather," writes Richard Fernandez at security and foreign-policy blog The Belmont Club. "But maybe there's more fuel on the ground than just the local grievances in some housing estates. The disturbances are no longer about two teenagers electrocuted while fleeing the police. They are now about French presidential politics, race, jobs, immigration, multiculturalism—with perhaps a touch of Islamic ideology thrown in."
Ed Morrissey, a notable conservative, takes an even broader view, at Captain's Quarters. "The riots typify French reaction to Islamism," he writes. "After WWII, the French built so-called 'sink estates' for the workers they encouraged to emigrate to help rebuild the nation, as did Germany. Most of these workers came from Turkey and colonies in North Africa. Instead of planning for their integration into society, however, the French allowed these communities to grow and fester in economic and social isolation. After two generations, the sink estates have proven to be nothing more than preplanned ghettoes, and the workers have no future except as second-class citizens of the nations they helped rebuild from devastation."
At Brussels Journal, a magazine dedicated to restoring Enlightenment values to postmodern Europe, George Adair writes that, as Hurricane Katrina did to the American South, so the "riots in Paris are exposing the very soft underbelly of Europe. Economic malaise, government failure, and an emasculated response to violence have all played a part in the rampages and destruction of property." To that list of national ills, Jayson Javitz at PoliPundit adds a negative growth rate.
Others see ominous parallels with American policy. "Lax immigration policies, prostration to the god of multiculturalism, and the refusal to fight fire with fire are three reasons why Muslim 'youths' in Paris are rioting in the streets," contends conservative La Shawn Barber. Others are equally nativist in their reactions. "As our numbers of immigrants (both legal and illegal) continue to swell, we could very well see similar riots here," predicts anti-relativist William Watkins at Southern Appeal. "We still have time to stand up, reject the suicide of multiculturalism, enforce our immigration laws on the books, and properly police our southern border. This should be a huge issue in the 2008 campaign."
Sex survey, yes or no?: An appellate court in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that parents "have no constitutional right to prevent public schools from exposing children to sexual topics," Reuters reports. At issue was a psychological survey that was intended to help students, school officials say, by determining if any had been victims of prior trauma.
"The important political point here—and perhaps the point on which SCOTUS might overturn—has to do with the right of privacy," writes Rod Dreher at the National Review's conservative roundtable The Corner, where debate on the ruling has been particularly lively. "Many parents—including me—believe it is the right of parents to decide when and how to introduce the subject of sex to children. It boggles my mind to think that school administrators would arrogate to themselves the right to raise such topics with my seven year old."
At The Debate Link, liberal David Schraub supports the decision, which he characterizes as a double-blow to conservative activists. Firstly, he writes, it defends the schools from parental impositions and parental vetoes, and secondly, judicial deferral to the elected body of the school board undermines, in his view, conservatives who believe they can code an ideological agenda in the innocuous phrase "judicial restraint." At The Corner, Andy McCarthy sees that storyline, too; he later writes the case really revolves around the knotty question of how to deal with common-sense rights that don't appear in the Constitution.
Read more about the decision.
Ready for prime-time:CNN announced Wednesday that primetime anchor Aaron Brown will be replaced by host Anderson Cooper, who has won wide acclaim for his impassioned coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
"Perhaps I am in a minuscule minority, but I appreciated Brown's attempt to present an informed and intelligent news program. Certainly he made mistakes, but his efforts at treating his viewers with respect was obvious," says Armando, skeptical of the decision, at liberal clubhouse Daily Kos. "There is, to be honest, a sort of local news quality to Cooper, though he certainly works very hard."
"For CNN to destabilize his show and then unceremoniously shove him out—because come on, that's precisely what happened—is pretty damn disrespectful," writes Rachel Sklar at Gotham media gossip conglomerate FishBowlNY. "And totally wasteful—on a 24-hour network in a 24-hour news cycle, a truly visionary leader would have realized the value in keeping them both."