Paris is burning. But not only Paris is in flames as the Muslim youth run riot. All across France there are hot spots of unrest and violence. The graphic to the right shows the various places where the rioting is happening. I took that image from this article published by the UK’s Telegraph. Why are the Muslim youth up in arms? I see three root causes for the current tragedy in France; these causes are also visible in other European nations, and the riots may yet spread beyond France’s borders.
Zero Population Growth
Europe, especially northern Europe, embraced the idea of zero population growth, fueled by the belief that there are too many human beings on the planet. These nations voluntarily cut back on their populations by various methods of birth control–and frankly, who’d want to reproduce with a Frenchman when there are strong and virile Americans around? Snide remarks aside, the government of France recognized that its population was not reproducing sufficiently to keep the country running when the current adults were ready to be shipped off to the maison pour les vieux gens. To make up for its lack of workers thanks to the misguided ZPG movement, France started to import people from former French colonies, mainly from Africa. For a nation that freaks out over a single non-French word entering the language, France was remarkably quick to open its borders and allow millions of non-French people to enter the nation for work. At this point, about 10% of France’s population is Muslim–which brings us to the second root cause of this crisis.
Misguided French Ideas
ZPG was only one of several misguided ideas. France is also a nation of socialist government policies. Socialism is a failed economic idea, but that doesn’t stop nations from embracing it with the faith that it will work right this time. Trust us. It will. Really. My wife’s great-uncle in Sweden makes a pile of money from his job, but 90% of it is taxed away from him. He lives in, and pays for, a very nice apartment, but in the same complex is a man who hasn’t worked in decades. Sweden’s socialist government is paying this man not to work, and his income from the dole allows him to live in the same kind of luxury as Uncle Kurt. When society pays people not to work, it’s not surprising to see people take advantage of that setup, until that society grinds to a halt. And since the socialist French needed laborers, they looked to Africa for a source of cheap labor.
France brought in millions of people from Africa to their nation to work for them. Even in a socialist society, someone has to do the work if there is to be bread in the boulangeries. But having brought these people in–not necessarily a problem in itself–the French failed to assimilate them into mainstream French culture. The overriding message to the immigrant African population was “you’re welcome to work here, but don’t think you’re actually French.” These mostly Muslim people settled in concentrated urban zones, kept apart from the rest of the population. And things have not really improved. France has an unemployment rate of about 10%, double our own. And the socialist society there has placed many burdens on workers and their employers. A laborer may only work 36 hours a week, firing someone who is failing at his job is practically impossible, and taxes are punitively high to pay for all the government projects and handouts. Why would an employer take a chance on hiring a street kid with no prior experience or references? What if he turns out to be undependable, and it’s almost impossible to fire him? Under these conditions, it’s no surprise that unemployment in the Muslim areas–especially among the youth–is high.
There are areas in France where it is possible to live your entire life without having to learn a word of French. This is not assimilation. We face a similar issue in the U.S. Our strength as a nation does not come from the fact that we are all different; our strength comes from the fact that we are unified as Americans. To borrow an example, an alloy of metals is stronger because the different metals have mixed together. If you keep the metals separate, they are easy to break apart. This is why a silver-plated vessel will peel apart, but a silver alloy will not. We have the same misguided multicultural ideas in the U.S. as the ones we see in France. But not all cultures are equal. America has proven to be a robust and good culture. People who have chosen to assimilate and take part in the American dream have historically fared much better than those who have chosen to keep themselves apart. And America has shown that you can become part of the greater culture without losing track of your heritage. If we cannot turn the tide of multiculturalism here, we may soon see our own cities burn.
Fragility of Islam
A large part of the outrage that is fueling the fires in France comes from the brittleness of Islam. While it was once a scientific and cultural beacon to the nations around it, the faith of Islam has dropped from its former glory. Can you think of any major philosophical, scientific or cultural masterpiece to come from the Muslim world in the past two centuries? Three centuries? Five? I say Islam is brittle because it cannot tolerate any form of dissent, even from outside the faith. Piggy banks have been removed from banks in England because they may offend Muslims, who consider pigs to be unclean. Notice that the Jewish people considered pigs to be unclean for thousands of years before Islam was founded, but the average observant Jew isn’t freaked out by the possibility of seeing a piggy bank. Nor do Jewish people demand that people not of their faith dress or behave according to Old Testament rules and dictates. I believe the difference between these faiths is that Jewish people have a strong and relatively flexible faith, while most modern Muslims cling to a faith of fragility.
My religious beliefs forbid the consumption of alcohol, but I do not demand that those not of my faith be held to this standard. I recognize that not everyone shares my beliefs, and while I honestly believe that the world would be a better place if everyone believed as I do and actively lived their religion, I do not believe any good could come from forcing my faith on others. One of my church’s Articles of Faith states, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” There is no such article of faith in Islam. The Muslim world is divided into two parts: one is either a part of the Dar al-Islam, the “house of Islam” as a Muslim in a Muslim state, or one is part of the Dar al-Harb, the “house of war.”
As I see it, Islam has three possible futures: 1) it may succeed in converting the world, only to destroy itself from within soon after. We can see it now, as Sunni and Shiite Muslims hate and kill each other. 2) Islam may vanish, either because it cannot cope with change or because the world sees fit to remove it. 3) Islam may experience a reformation, changing from the brittle, violent religion of today to a faith that provides the spiritual needs for its adherents without the need to convert by the sword.
Or by the knife, as Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl, and many others have already experienced.