Following even distantly the press of another country is a healthy habit on several counts. (One of those is that it’s a good reason to learn a foreign language well.) For me, the French media give me perspective with respect to life in America.
On January 1st, the French police congratulated itself, as it does every year, on a significant reduction in the number of cars set afire as a form of celebration the nigh before. Yes, you read it right; French people, young French people I would assume burn the cars of perfect strangers whose sole offense is parking on the street. What fun it must be. The police stated that 14% fewer cars had been torched in France than on New Year’s Eve 2014. In the whole country, only 800 cars were burned. Brought to population scale, it’s as if 4,000 cars had been deliberately burned US-wide in a single night. Way to go; self-congratulation well deserved!
President Francois Hollande of the French Socialist Party delivered his New Year promises to the nation. According the moderate daily Le Figaro, 92% of French people did not believe him. Unfortunately no more details about the method or sample were given by the newspaper. Yet, there is little doubt that believers are now a very small number. Take note, Mr Sanders, the Democrat honest “socialist” alternative to the crook and liar. I know, I am repeating myself: the word “socialist” almost always prefigures disaster. The case of France indicates that this rule of thumb is correct even if the “socialism” in question is not accompanied by authoritarianism.
Also at the end of 2015, several soldiers are guarding a mosque somewhere in provincial France. Mosques have been protected along with synagogues and some churches since the summer massacre in Paris. There is a small subtle element of propaganda in this: Muslim organizations representatives point out that it would be unfair to protect only synagogues, as if mosques could not be also the targets of terrorism. Anyway, it makes a bad impression if mosques are not under armed protection. Although no one actually said the word, not placing police or soldiers in front of mosques would constitute a kind of state Islamophobia. The French left wing authorities are sensitive to much of the unspoken.
Anyway, a half dozen well-armed soldiers, regular military, are fighting boredom in front of a mosque when a car drives right into them at high speed, Palestinian style. France is not Democrat-run Chicago; the soldiers refrain from shooting until the driver backs up and tries again. At that point, they shoot in the general direction of the car and wound the driver. The man has an Arabic first name and last name. His wife describes him a a devout, practicing Muslim. The French prosecutor decides not to charge him with terrorism. French Muslim authorities unambiguously denounce the attack. Go figure!
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