While I was vacationing over the holidays, and not paying much attention to anything, the angry young men in the Paris banlieues (suburban housing projects) were out setting a new record for burned cars on New Years Eve. 1,147. In a single night.
Over a period of weeks in 2005, 9 thousand cars were burned in the banlieues and central Paris, resulting in 300 million dollars in damage, 288 arrests, and 126 injured French Police and fire fighters. But what happened on New Year's Eve makes a new one day record.
Most of the cars are burned by citizens of North African descent. Most are Muslims, if nominal Muslims. Some have termed these car burning intifadas, but I think they're better described as acts of frustration by excluded, bored, misfit young men. And I use the term misfit judiciously. Many are feral. They've been doomed to second or third class social status because they are, as a class, anti-social, semi-literate, violent and essentially unemployable.
The French have dubbed the banlieues "the lost territories of the republic." Here's a disturbing music video that uses real and staged crime to show the frustration that boils over in the banlieues almost daily. And it ends, fittingly, with a car burning. This adds an interesting context to the French media obsession with showing how messed up America is. The violence and anger displayed in the music video is routinely downplayed or ignored by the French press.
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