Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Chris Caldwell has another excellent piece in the Weekly Standard: Allah Mode, a trip into the Islamist suburbs of France. Caldwell compares the situation to that of American cities in the 1970s (Mickey Kaus has made this comparison as well), with the difference that in France this underclass counter-culture has a foreign patron with violent plans. But it's much worse than America for another reason: there are a lot more of them. Caldwell compares America's black population with France's Muslim population - but Muslims are still coming in to France, and they have a far higher fertility rate than the native population, as Caldwell notes. It might be better to compare to America's Mexican immigration. I'm an optimist on the prospects of eventual integration and assimilation of this huge wave of people - assuming we want to assimilate them, as we should. But I'm aware that this means the Mexification of America as well as the Americanization of the immigrants. By analogy, a successful integration of France's Muslims means the radical transformation of France: into a society more Muslim than Christian. That's why Caldwell opens with the story of Kamel Hamza. He's the only plausible vision of a civil conclusion to France's problems: a sober, entrepreneurial, community-minded, religious family man, a pillar of his Muslim French community. Except that he has no intention of being French - not as "French" has been historically understood. But that could change.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I think there is a reasonable likelihood that France and America will be active adversaries within a generation. This is one reason. France already defines itself and its role in the world largely through anti-Americanism: through its efforts to create a rival European superpower and through its sponsorship of Third World causes against the West (read: America). Now we add the fact the Islamist element. With the Cold War over a decade gone, there is little holding France and America together and a great deal pushing us apart. The British used to say that the purpose of NATO was to keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down. Our posture towards European Union has historically been predicated on the assumption that it is a good thing to keep Europeans together because then they won't fight each other and drag us in to settle their wars. In the future, our posture should increasingly be premised on whether it is an instrument for containing French ambitions or for advancing them.