|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 17, No. 1||January 2006|
France at the Crossroads
What will the French learn from the riots?
On Thursday, October 27, a group of teenagers — all immigrants or children of immigrants — was playing soccer in a field in the Paris suburb of Livry-Gargan. It was the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim period of daytime fasting. The game broke up around 5:30 p.m. so the boys could get home to the neighboring town of Clichy-sous-Bois before dark, and eat their first meal since daybreak.
Some took a shortcut by jumping over a fence through a building site rather than walk around it. There had been many thefts from construction sites, and someone called the police. Officers arrived promptly and took six boys in for questioning. Three others ran, clambering over a nine-foot wall into an Electricité de France sub-station. The only place to hide was a shed — with huge warning signs on it — built over a high-voltage transformer. At 6:12 p.m. power went out in the neighborhood. Two of the boys, a 17-year-old of Tunisian origin and a 15-year-old Mauritanian, had shorted out the transformer and electrocuted themselves. The third, a 17-year-old of Turkish origin, survived with severe burns. He initially told police the three just decided to run — no one was chasing them — but has since changed his story and claims officers were in pursuit.
Police recovered the bodies at 7:00 p.m., and the rumor spread that police deliberately chased the boys into the sub-station. Young men poured into the streets of Clichy-sous-Bois, burning automobiles, battling police, and looting shops. Thus began nearly three weeks of rioting and arson that spread to some 300 towns across France, causing more damage than any event since the Second World War.
For the first few days, the rioting was mainly in the Seine-Saint-Denis area northeast of Paris. “Youths of immigrant origin,” as the French press described them, kept quiet during the day and came out at night to burn and pillage. They met police and firefighters with stones, bricks, and even gunfire. On the night of October 30-31, when police used tear gas to disperse a mob at Clichy-sous-Bois, some of the fumes drifted into a mosque where worshippers were celebrating an important festival. Naturally, this was taken as another deliberate provocation, and may have encouraged rioting more than the deaths of the two boys. Soon there were copycat riots in non-white neighborhoods in every part of France, and even in Belgium and Germany.
Night after night, it seemed France was at war. At their worst, rioters were burning nearly 1,500 cars a night and scores of buildings. At one point, train service from Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport was halted because the line ran through an area that was no longer safe. In Lyon, France’s second largest city, firebombs shut down the subway, and for several days all public transport stopped at 7:00 p.m. for safety reasons. There were some incursions into white areas — for example, on November 6 thugs burned a few cars in downtown Paris — but non-whites mainly sacked their own neighborhoods. Thousands of riot police seemed unable to end the violence.
Journalists noted that for the first time anyone could remember, France was unsafe for reporters. Rioters beat up white television crews from France 2, TF1, and LCI. Jacques Cardoze, a well-known reporter for France 2, ran for his life, along with his camera and sound men, when rioters threatened them. From behind police lines they watched as their pursuers looted and burned their vehicle. Some reporters simply refused to cover events they considered too dangerous. Others went out with the police, like embedded troops in Iraq. The riots were a windfall for black and Arab free-lancers who could cross the lines unnoticed. When word got out that TV crews could not get close to the action, arsonists filmed their own handiwork and offered the clips for sale.
Michel Pajon, the Socialist mayor of the Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Grand, described a state of complete lawlessness in his town, with thugs dragging people out of their cars, stoning them, and setting the vehicles on fire. Others burned down schools and daycare centers. Mr. Pajon made an impassioned plea for help from the army, adding, “We need to know whether this country still has a state.”
He was not alone. On October 29, just two days into the riots, a leftist police union that represents one fifth of all French officers, made an official request for armed intervention. Michel Thooris, the union’s secretary general, wrote to Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy: “There is civil war in Clichy-sous-Bois. . . . Snipers are firing on the police. . . . We can no longer handle this by ourselves. We do not have the equipment or the training for urban warfare. Only the Army, which is trained, equipped, and prepared for a mission of this kind, can intervene safely and stabilize the situation.” He went on to call for curfews “in the face of the civil war now being fought in many French ghettos.”
The army can be called in to suppress rebellion only under Article 16 of the French constitution, which sets up what is, in effect, a temporary presidential dictatorship. Instead, after nearly two weeks of dithering, President Jacques Chirac invoked a 1955 law dating back to France’s war in Algeria. He declared a state of emergency that allowed local officials to establish curfews, and the police slowly took back control from the rioters.
Amazingly, rioters killed only one person. Sixty-year-old Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec was the vice president of the tenants council in his rent-subsidized building in the town of Stains. On the evening of November 4, he and the president of the council put out a fire someone had started in front of the building. They explained to a group of “youths” that fires and violence hurt everyone, and then made the rounds of the area. On their return, a hooded man appeared, and beat them both to the ground. Le Chenadec died of his injuries two days later. As of this writing there were no suspects.
Le Chenadec was one of the few whites living in the project; his daughter is married to an Arab. One of his white neighbors later told reporters she had had enough: “The other day I had my nose broken right in my building by blacks who had come looking for white people to beat up. White people never speak up for themselves. And when one of our children gets beat up there are no marches and rallies. [National Front leader] Le Pen has got it right.” (see “France Sets the Tone,” AR, June 2002 and “Crisis in the Front National,” Feb. 1999).
As the violence raged, most French politicians — notably President Jacques Chirac — either kept quiet or dithered helplessly. As one young member of parliament observed, “This is the kind of situation that measures the stature of statesmen. We have none.” Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy called the rioters racaille — “scum” or “rabble” — but provoked only outrage. When President Chirac finally broke silence after 10 days of rioting and spoke to the nation on television, his mix of pieties and bromides was widely derided. “Like sprinkling holy water on a raging fire,” observed the regional paper le Républicain Lorrain.
Even the European Union seemed to think France was helpless. On Nov. 13, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said the EU could offer as much as a billion Euros for “social inclusion.” “For some time,” he added, “we have been analyzing the problem of integration on a Europe-wide basis and France is suffering in particular, but it is a European problem.”
On Nov. 16, Parliament voted to extend the state of emergency for another three months, but by then curfews in the worst-hit areas were having an effect. On the 17th, the BBC noted that only about 100 vehicles were burned the night before, which meant non-white suburbanites were back to no more than their usual level of pyromania. At the height of the riots, more than 1,400 vehicles — cars, trucks, city buses, anything thugs could get their hands on — were going up in a night. The other targets were the installations welfare-state France had been at such pains to build in the ghettos: schools, kindergartens, youth clubs, gymnasiums, and social centers.
By mid-November insurance companies were estimating the damages: 20 million Euros for 8,000 burned vehicles and another 250 million Euros (1 Euro = $1.17) for approximately 100 public buildings destroyed. Over 1,000 people were expected to go on the dole because their workplaces had burned down, and bus service had to be cut back in cities that had lost part of the fleet. Police arrested some 3,000 rioters, only a small fraction of participants. Hundreds of police and firemen were hurt by rioters, some with serious gunshot wounds.
What will come of the riots? Will the realization that multi-racialism does not work break out of the “racist” enclave of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front? Or will the French blunder down the American path of coddling rioters with affirmative action? The violence could be the dose of reality that saves France from the slow suicide of dispossession, or it could usher in the quick suicide of preferences and the insidious anti-white ideology that accompanies them. Or the French could do nothing. Even after an event of this magnitude, if the “youth” stay quiet for a while, France could slip back into paralysis. Whatever happens, the riots of November 2005 are a crucial event in the history of one of the great nations of the West.
Immediately after the violence, the media were thick with diagnoses and commentary. Liberals — and France has plenty of them — blamed the violence squarely on whites, and want to launch a cultural revolution to root out “racism.” Others point to the huge sums France has already spent on the poor, and insist there can be no excuse for arson.
Virtually no one drew explicitly racial conclusions, and the media behaved much as they would have in the United States. Le Monde, the country’s most prestigious daily, added a new section to the paper during the riots. As if the violence were a matter of geography, it was called “The Crisis in the Suburbs,” not the crisis of immigration, multiculturalism, or race.
During the entire first week, when every politician and commentator was jabbering about the riots, the French would have had the impression that only Jean-Marie Le Pen and the National Front were silent They issued a blizzard of press releases, but the media refused to give them a chance to say “I told you so.” Only after Nov. 7 did Mr. Le Pen and other NF leaders get any coverage.
Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the breaking news service LCI, which is owned by the big private broadcaster TF1, was at least honest. On Nov. 10, he told an audience of newsmen in Amsterdam that for purely political reasons he had decided not to run much riot footage: “Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want right-wing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television.” TF1 itself shut down its interactive Internet site during the riots, explaining that “given the number of comments we have received, it has become impossible to publish them and still maintain our standards of rigorous objectivity and responsiveness.” What is most likely is that readers were drawing conclusions TF1 did not care to post.
In this climate, it is not surprising that when Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin addressed a special session of the National Assembly on Nov. 8 he blamed France rather than the rioters. He apologized for the tear gas that had drifted into the Clichy mosque, and called the violence “a warning and an appeal.” He said immigrants faced job and housing discrimination, and that fighting it “must become a priority for our national community.” Discrimination, he said, is a “daily and repeated infringement of our national ideals.” As in the United States, race enters the discussion only as a means for blaming whites.
Academics proved themselves just as idiotic as their American counterparts. Here is Eric Marlière, a prison sociologist, interviewed by the major newsweekly, Nouvel Observateur: “The youths have made their residential space their own, and although they may circulate in this space, they sometimes find themselves held in this space. Other public spaces are more or less closed to them. Which is to say that they are the symbolic owners of this space but also its prisoners. This space is not just for socializing but for all kinds of activities one of which, now attracting the media, is vandalism.”
Emmanuel Todd, a historian and expert on immigration noted:
I tend towards a rather optimistic view of what has happened. . . . I see nothing in these events that radically separates the children of immigrants from the rest of French society. I see precisely the opposite . . . None of this would have happened if these children of immigrants had not absorbed the fundamental values of French society, for example the coupling of liberty-equality . . . The ethnically mixed youths of Seine-Saint-Denis are firmly in the tradition of social uprisings that mark the history of France . . .
The hard left condemned anyone who suggested rioters and not French society were at fault. Such talk was “scandalous,” said Cécilie Duflot, spokesman for the Greens. “It is nauseating and irresponsible to make them the cause of the situation,” said the League of Human Rights. “Irritating if not intolerable,” said Manuel Valls, Socialist deputy mayor of Evry. The MRAP (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples) warned against “ethnicizing a revolt that reveals the failures of the French model of integration, which has refused to take into consideration exclusion, poverty, and unemployment.”
Aside from government ministers, perhaps no one was more visible in the media than Yazid Sabeg, one of just a handful of North African business executives. Son of an Algerian worker who came to France in 1952, he worked as a government bureaucrat before setting up a finance company. He is now head of CS Communication and Systems, which has 4,000 employees, and dispensed wisdom almost nonstop throughout the rioting.
The French business world is “viscerally racist,” he explained, so there must be across-the-board “positive discrimination.” He said preferences are “the best way to measure individual talent and merit fairly, without regard to color.”
Like American blacks, for him, “equal treatment” means special treatment: “I think that the way for employers to demonstrate that they practice equal treatment is for them clearly to announce their diversity goals, measure their progress towards diversity, and publish the results in their annual reports.” Mr. Sabeg also urged France to adopt national holidays that honor religions other than Christianity.
The Question of Preferences
Mr. Sabeg is at one pole of what promises to be the next great social debate in France: whether to adopt American-style preferences. Traditionally, France has refused even to count racial minorities, much less grant preferences. It takes the view that the French are one people, and that even noticing minorities encourages separatism. It is against the law for employers to keep track of the racial mix of their employees.
Up to now, like the majority of politicians, President Jacques Chirac has been against preferences. At a ceremony last June to inaugurate the suspiciously-named High Authority Against Discrimination and for Equality, he warned against a threat to French identity: the “conception in which some Frenchmen should define themselves according to their origins in order to pursue their rights.”
Since the riots, he has been singing a different tune: In his Nov. 14 address to the nation he said that “companies and labor unions must mobilize on the essential question of diversity.” Nothing could be accomplished, he said, “without combating this poison for society, which is discrimination.” Like every booster, Mr. Chirac pretends to believe diversity can be achieved without “resorting to the logic of quotas.”
For now, Mr. Chirac is in the minority. Not even his employment minister wants preferences. Gérard Larcher explained that ethnic distinctions would be a retreat from republican ideals, and would evoke wartime Vichy’s race-based laws. He explained that France is still ashamed that under the occupation, government lists made it easy for Nazis to round up Jews. As a practical matter, he said it was not an employer’s job to fix social problems: “Companies are not the Salvation Army.”
Not even the Socialists back preferences. Asked by a journalist at the height of the riots whether France should offer preferences based on race, even Manuel Valls repeated his party’s position: “No, only according to social or regional criteria. . . . There should be no ethnic, racial or religious criteria.”
Surprisingly, the man who appears to be playing a key role in pushing for preferences is the man with an otherwise hard-line reputation, Interior Ministor Nicholas Sarkozy.
Incitement to Racial Hatred
One immense difficulty France will have in coming to grips with the November riots is that whenever someone comes close to telling the truth about them he is likely to be sued for incitement to racial hatred. Anyone can bring such a suit, and the case of Alain Finkielkraut — France’s most prominent philosopher — is a chilling example of what can now happen not only in France but in many European countries.
Aside from nationalists who have been predicting an explosion, Mr. Finkielkraut has come closest to a realistic understanding of what happened. In a Nov. 15 interview in the newspaper Le Figaro, he pointed out that young thugs are burning cars and buildings because they hate France. “How’s this for a charming rap couplet?” he asked: “‘France is a bitch/Don’t forget to f**k her to exhaustion just like a whore/Have at her, man!/Me, I piss on Napoleon and General de Gaulle.’ Rather than being outraged by the horrors of burned schools, people pontificate on the hopelessness of the arsonists. Rather than pay attention to what they are saying — ‘F**k your mother! F**k the police! F**k the state!’ — we transform their calls to hatred into appeals for aid and their destruction of school buildings into demands for education.”
“They don’t want more schools, more daycare centers, more gymnasiums, more buses,” he added. “They’re burning these things. They are rising up against every institution, every delay, every obstacle to the things they want: money, cars, women. They are children of the remote control; they want everything right away.”
Two days later, he gave an even more hard-hitting interview to the Israeli paper, Ha’aretz:
It is clear that this is a revolt with an ethno-religious character. Everyone actually understands that. If you talk about the ethnic origins of the rioters that is considered racist, but at the same time, the unanimous reaction to the riots is to denounce discrimination against non-white minorities.
He heaped scorn on people who try to “understand” the violence: “I have been horrified by these acts, which kept repeating themselves, and horrified even more by the understanding with which they were received in France. These people are treated like revolutionaries.”
Many intellectuals claimed the riots were because of insufficient “openness to the other,” but Mr. Finkielkraut said the problem was too much openness: “No one’s holding them [the rioters] here. And this is precisely where the lie begins. Because if there were neglect and poverty, they would go somewhere else. But they know very well that anywhere else, and especially in the countries they came from, their situation would be worse, as far as rights and opportunities go.”
He also noted the double standard: “When an Arab torches a school, he is a revolutionary. When a white guy does it, it’s fascism.”
“Sure, there is discrimination and there are certainly French racists, French who don’t like Arabs and blacks. Well, they will like them even less when they realize how much they are hated by these people. . . . The generous idea of a war against racism has gradually transformed itself into a monstrous ideology of lies. In the 21st century, antiracism will be what communism was in the 20th.”
This was perhaps his most trenchant line: “The question isn’t what is the best model of integration, but just what sort of integration can be achieved with people who hate you.”
Mr. Finkielkraut even joked in the interview about how you can go to jail in France for talking about race. “Let’s take, for example, the incidents at the soccer match between France and Algeria that was held a few years ago. [In 2001, North Africans in the stands jeered the French team and booed the French national anthem. The game was stopped when “youths” burst onto the field waving Algerian flags.] The match took place in Paris, at the Stade de France. People say the French national team is admired by all because it is black-blanc-beur [“black-white-Arab” — a play on words that refers to the bleu-blanc-rouge (blue, white and red) of the French tricolor flag, and suggests the team is a symbol of multiculturalism]. Actually, the national team today is black-black-black, which arouses ridicule throughout Europe. If you point this out in France, they’ll put you in jail . . .”
Mr. Finkielkraut should not have been surprised, therefore, when on Nov. 24 MRAP announced it would file a civil suit charging him with “incitement of hatred.” There was a good chance MRAP could win damages; former film-star Brigitte Bardot has paid large fines for milder remarks. Mr. Finkielkraut immediately went on television to grovel:
He claimed he had been a “victim of an enormous misunderstanding,” and that the Ha’aretz interview amounted to “a compilation in which I do not recognize myself.” “I apologize,” he added, “to those who were wounded by a person that was not I.” Asked what he would say to backs and Arabs, he replied “I say to them ‘I detest as much as they do the person who emerges from this puzzle (of quotations), and I would not even shake his hand.’ I would tell them ‘I don’t think the way he does.’”
Mouloud Aounit, secretary general of MRAP, was born in Algeria, and is thus of the same North African origins as the rioters. He decided to withdraw his suit, even though — perhaps with some justification — he “doubted the sincerity of Mr. Finkielkraut’s apology.” He called the interview an example of “astoundingly violent racism,” and made a formal appeal to the French television authorities to keep Mr. Finkielkraut off the air.
The rioters’ more respectable co-ethnics can therefore intimidate anyone who strays beyond the official explanation that “racism” caused the riots. The French have passed laws that allow immigrants to muzzle them.
Another prominent French scholar, historian Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, also went to the foreign press to say things about the riots she could not have said in France. As she explained to the Moscow weekly, Moskovskie Novosti, “It’s true that the Russian television follows Putin step by step. But French television is so politically correct it is a nightmare. We have laws Stalin could have thought up. . . . People cannot express an opinion about ethnic groups, the Second World War, and plenty of other things. You’ll be quickly convicted of a crime.”
As for the rioters: “These people come directly from their African villages. . . . [E]veryone is surprised to find that the African children are in the streets and not in school and that their parents can’t buy an apartment. The reason is clear: Many of these Africans, I tell you, are polygamous. In one apartment there are three or four women and 25 children. The place is so cramped it’s no longer an apartment but a God-knows-what. That’s why the children are running around in the street.”
She also noted: “For years the government dared not call these people hooligans. The word was forbidden. When Nicolas Sarkozy called them ‘thugs’ and ‘scum’ these young people, these darlings, demanded an apology. In France we have an abominable mania for apologizing.”
So far, Mrs. Carrère d’Encausse has not been sued, but anyone tempted to speak his mind about the riots will have to wonder whether it is worth the risk of being sued.
This queer notion that polygamy was an important cause of the riots has had something of a vogue. Bernard Accoyer, the parliamentary leader of the governing UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire or Union for a Popular Movement) Party said it is “certainly one of the causes.” Even Employment Minister Gérard Larcher complained about it, saying polygamy leads to anti-social behavior that makes people unemployable. (Although polygamy is illegal in France, immigrants could get visas for multiple wives until 1993. Many wives have continued to enter illegally, and there are an estimated 10,000-20,000 polygamous families in France. A family with three or four wives and a score of children collects huge welfare payments.)
Needless to say, polygamy is only one irritating habit of a group that is unassimilable for a host of reasons. There are now an estimated eight to nine million people of North and West African origin in France — the number has doubled since 1975 — and five million of them are probably Muslim. Of the Muslims, the largest number are Algerians — probably 35 percent — followed by Moroccans and Tunisians. They are concentrated in the poor suburbs of Paris, Lille, Lyon, and Marseille, but are found everywhere. If current demographic trends continue, in 25 years or less, non-whites will be a majority of all French under 20 in urban areas. At 60 percent, non-whites are already a majority in French prisons.
Today’s arsonists are, in many cases, third-generation immigrants — citizens by birth — whose grandparents came to France during the post-war boom. Many are children of Algerians who had fought for the French and who came after the Algerian War ended in 1962. They moved into high-rise, rent-subsidized apartments in the suburbs, which have become largely non-white. It is common to call them “ethnic ghettos,” but this means only that immigrants who had the will and ability to integrate have done so, and that most of the French got out while they could.
France spends 30 percent of its budget on social services, and the billions it has poured into immigrant suburbs means an illiterate African can live on the dole and not work a day in his life. The amount of aid ebbs and flows with politics, but France has made enormous efforts to provide jobs and education. There are “tax-free zones” near housing projects that exempt companies from certain social charges. There are Priority Education Zones to funnel extra services to children who do badly in school. There are government-sponsored employment bureaus in the projects, but hardly anyone uses them. At one time there were even “Look Studios,” where young Africans got free lessons in hairstyles, fashion, deportment and speech, all in the hope of making them more attractive to employers. They had no observable effect and were dropped.
There has been much talk of unemployment rates of 40 percent in the projects, versus 10 percent nationally, but many of the November arsonists were boys of 13 and 14. They are certainly not looking for jobs.
Like so many Third-World arrivals in the West, Africans in France become more hostile with every generation. Their elders were grateful to live in a country with subsidized housing and good schools, where even menial laborers could live vastly better than in their own countries. Today’s rioters care nothing about this.
“My first reaction was, ‘Wow, how modern and advanced!’” recalls Sonia Imloul, now 30, who moved into a high-rise as a child with her Algerian immigrant parents. “I was seven when I saw a shower for the first time.” She says the generations born in France take everything for granted, spit on the jobs their parents were grateful to get, and despise France. “The first words children learn are swear words,” she says. Crime is everywhere. “The law here is that of drugs,” she explains.
Many older North Africans cannot understand their children. As one explained to the French weekly Marianne:
They are full of hate, but hate for what? For the fact that they are lucky enough to live in France? All the youngsters back home would rather be in their places. The Straits of Gibraltar will soon be full of the corpses of people who drown trying to get here. Where are they better off: in Clichy or Ceuta [a Moroccan city across from Spain, filled with Africans trying to get into Europe]?
Work? There’s plenty of work for anyone willing to bust his butt . . .
Discrimination? Yes, you have to fight it but not the way they are doing it. Who is going to trust us after these riots? . . . It’s not whites who are going to suffer for this; we are.
What has grown up in the non-white suburbs — sometimes to the bafflement of an older generation — is an almost perfect copy of the black American ghetto. The louts who threw bombs dress like ghetto blacks, walk like them, use the same gestures, and listen to a French version of the same, vile rubbish known as rap “music” — and at the same ear-splitting volume. They have the same hatred for the larger society, find the same lure in crime and violence, and demonstrate their manhood with the same coarse contempt for women. The television blares 24 hours a day in their homes, and no one ever reads. They are even sneaker-crazy: Some carry around erasers so they can wipe off scuff marks. Like blacks in America, the women do much better than the men. They appear to be able to find all the work they want, whereas the young toughs refuse to work for “chump change.”
The Department of Seine-Saint-Denis, just northeast of Paris, contains the largest concentrations of non-whites. It is among its seething population of 1,400,000 that the riots began and spread. In France as a whole, 80 percent of students get the baccalauréat or secondary school certificate; in the projects, it is only 20 percent. One in five are functionally illiterate. There are scores of school-age children, brought to France through “family reunification,” who do not speak a word of French.
Crime is at record levels in the Department: in 2004, murders were up by 18 percent over the year before. The latest fashionable crime is hostage-taking or imprisonment — the 155 cases in 2004 were a 32 percent jump from 2003. Men are taken to force payment of drug and gang debts; women are taken as sex slaves.
Criminals have a division of labor. “Because the North Africans control the drug trade,” explains a police officer, “the blacks have concentrated on other lines of business: robbery and carjacking.” The prosecutor for the town of Bobigny, François Molins, explains “there is probably not a single housing project that does not have its own parallel economy.” He says crime brings so much money and status that boys are irresistibly drawn to it. Every year the criminals are younger.
Daniel Merchet is a lawyer in Seine-Saint-Denis, who has worked for years with non-white criminals. “In the projects, most of the time violence is just a degraded form of language,” he says. “Some of these youths have learned nothing in school, and express themselves only through violence — with each other, too. They have absorbed nothing of Judeo-Christian culture and have no sense of right and wrong. Their racial value is ‘honor.’ Their parents do not understand the discipline children receive in school; they think teachers are ‘disrespecting’ them.”
“Basically,” he continues, “these people have no job skills, no job, and no income. In their society, to be is to have. They must have their slick clothes and cool sneakers, so they deal drugs.” Mr. Merchet estimates that 45 percent of drug dealing takes place on school grounds.
These are the “youths” of whom President Chirac said in his television address must be proud to be “sons and daughters of the Republic whatever their ethnic origins.” Only Internet postings fully expresses the bitterness Frenchmen keep bottled up:
“They have learned their lesson well: They cry out for jobs — in between setting fire to cars and stoning firemen — all the while hoping no one will do them the bad turn of actually finding them one. Who could possibly believe the charming young Arab or African with his face hidden in a hood, squatting in a doorway with a joint in his mouth is really looking for work? Is he really going to give up his criminal hustles, which bring in several hundred Euros a day, for a minimum-wage job?”
Part of the problem is that France, like other European countries, has not yet adapted its criminal justice system to non-whites. Its laws are written on the assumption that children of 13 and 14 are not hardened criminals and must be counseled. France is still at the stage of America in the 1960s, when it was anathema to “blame the victim,” and when “sensitive” responses to rising crime rates made the problem worse. Americans living in France who report crimes to the police are dumbfounded to be told that even if the culprits are caught there will be no punishment, so there is no point in chasing them.
The mayor of Drancy, near the Seine-Saint-Denis towns that burned most brightly, complains: “In our town the dominant sentiment of is one of impunity. The youths who go before the court in Bobigny call the judges ‘Santa Claus’.”
The French penal code actually has provisions for jail time and heavy fines for parents of minor children who commit crimes if parents have intentionally neglected their duties. Amid reports that mothers and fathers were egging on the bomb-throwers, Jacques Chirac called for enforcement. So far, a handful of sentences have been handed down: half-day sessions on “parenting.” “They should not be stigmatized,” explained the judge at Senlis in Oise Province. “This is to remind them firmly of their responsibilities.”
The deputy mayor of Draveil in Essone Province announced he was going to cut back on some of the more lavish subsides for families whose children have been convicted of rioting. Georges Tron said he would stop paying phone bills, electric bills, and water bills, and cut off subsidies for children’s vacations (yes, they get that, too), only to be met with howls of indignation from anti-racist groups.
There is one aspect of the French problem that does not have an American parallel: Islam. Militant Islam is spreading rapidly, and Muslim injunctions about the sexes add a sometimes gruesome ingredient not found in American ghettos.
A recent report by the inspector general for education, Jean-Pierre Obin, described the extent to which many heavily-immigrant schools have fallen under the control of Islamists. Girls are subject to Islamic dress codes — no skirts, dresses, or makeup — and are forbidden to attend gym classes. In some schools, certain European philosophers considered unacceptable to Islam are banned, as are art classes that teach representational drawing (because only Allah “creates”). Students walk out of lessons about the pre-Islamic religions of the Middle East or about the history of Christianity.
Girls are caught between the Western norms of French society and the Islamic view that woman are property. At least 50,000 French-born non-white women have been forced into marriages with men from the old country. There is no shortage of Algerian or Tunisian men who will jump at the chance to live legally in France by marrying a citizen. Only recently have the women begun to talk, and a 2004 book called Forced Bride, written by a Moroccan woman known only as Leila, has become a hit.
Modesty, and virginity until marriage are obligatory in some households, and France has had several honor killings. More commonly, Muslim girls who stray or who are suspected of straying become fair game for everyone. There is even a word — tournante — for the gang-rapes that may follow. The word means to take one’s turn, and the ritual is traditionally held in the basement storage areas of project apartment buildings. If a “youth” manages to seduce a girl, he is expected to share the now-damaged goods with his friends. In one sensational case in October 2002, a “fallen” girl named Sohane Benziane was tortured and burned alive by schoolmates after her tournante. The collision of Islamic prudery with the unrestrained promiscuity of the ghetto has had terrible consequences for many young women. (One of the best accounts of the horrors that have been brewing for years in the French suburbs is Theodore Dalrymple’s “The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris,” published in the Autumn 2002 issue of City Journal, which is available on-line.)
The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the riots — and for that reason one that almost no one in France will utter out loud — is that this is where non-white immigration inevitably leads. Britain was rewarded with bombs in London, and race riots in Oldham, Burnley, and Bradford. Immigrant tensions in Holland came to a head with the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh. Belgium has violent gangs of Congolese who shoot it out in broad daylight. Sweden has crime-ridden immigrant enclaves where the police dare not go. Whether a country institutes preferences, as Britain has, makes no differences. Once enough aliens arrive, they build parallel societies in which to incubate hatred.
The French have, in fact, proposed a few elementary reforms since the riots. On Nov. 29, Prime Minister de Villepin called for a new law to make it harder for French citizens to marry foreigners. Any marriage taking place abroad would require a screening by the consulate before the foreign spouse gets identity papers. This should reduce the number of “forced brides.” Mr. de Villepin also said the government was studying ways to crack down on polygamy, and would extend the period legal residents must wait before they bring in their families from one year to two.
Still, the major debate in France — whether to start enforcing preferences — completely misses the point of nearly three weeks of unprecedented violence. Multi-racialism has failed in France, just as it has failed everywhere else. Subsidies and preferences will change nothing. The graffiti in the suburbs will still read Nique la France [F**k France]. Masses of Africans will not assimilate. The real issue should be how to persuade them to leave.
Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front called the riots “just the start” of conflicts due to “massive immigration from countries of the Third World that is threatening not just France but the whole continent.” He says the front is “submerged” with applications from new members. According to a November poll for the magazine Paris-Match, the number of Frenchmen who would vote for him for president has jumped six points to 21 percent.
Twenty-one percent is not enough. There could not be a clearer sign of what France must do than simultaneous riots in nearly 300 towns and cities. If France does not act now to keep France French, the next time 300 cities burn it could be too late.
Testing the Limits of Our Cowardice
It was the morning of the 12th day of riots. A television journalist doing street interviews in front of a burned-out daycare center hands the microphone to a young mother. “What’s more,” she says, “it didn’t do a bit of good. There weren’t any white people in there.”
The journalist knows very well that this is not an unfortunate choice of words. It is a spontaneous admission, a brutal truth that, in the emotion of the moment, finds unrestrained expression.
The astonishing scenes of violence that have marked these riots represent an ethnic conflict. In fact, anyone who takes public transportation in our big cities knows that violence has been mounting. For months the provocations have gotten worse (jostling, looks and words full of hatred, blocking your way). To shouts of “white whore” and “f**k your mother,” to which we have grown accustomed over the years, have been added obscene gestures and physical threats that often lead to blows. “Whitey” has to give way, get off the sidewalk, avert his eyes, endure the insults. Women suffer most. . . .
To return to where we started, why do the rioters burn down daycare centers and primary schools? There may be symbols here: When the daycare centers burn, children have to stay with their mothers, in “their” world and “their” culture, thus closing the door to any kind of integration. Is this just a coincidence?
Translated form the National Front-affiliated weekly, National Hebdo, Nov. 10-16, 2005.
The Rioters Speak for Themselves
Michel Gaudin, director general of the national police force, reported that 80 percent of the approximately 3,000 rioters arrested were already known to the police. What follows is a translation from “I Set Fire to a Cop” from the November 14 Le Figaro, which profiles a number of rioters:
Aziz, 20, says it was because he hates the police that he threw Molotov cocktails and pillaged a convenience store near the Saint-Denis metro on November 7. “When I saw the riot police, and a helicopter overheard, I said to myself: They want war? They’re gonna get it.”
Aziz and a group of friends began by setting fires in garbage cans and putting them in the middle of the road. “That way the young ones could make a little money stopping cars and robbing the drivers.” What about the two young men killed in the transformer at Clichy-sous-Bois? “I don’t care about them. . . . We did this to get attention, to make people respect us. I accuse the state of having driven us to this.”
Like most of the rioters who have come before the magistrates at Bobigny, Aziz is well known to the police. A dropout since fifth grade, he has been in prison twice for “things like robbery and extortion,” and has never had a regular job.
Momo is 16 years old. This husky Mauritian dressed in an oversized white coat concedes without hesitation: “We went into action without thinking much about it. We just tried not to do too much damage in our own complex, and went next door where people seemed a little better off.”
Some of the rioters are more lucid about the limits of what they can accomplish with an outburst of rage. Mamadou, who lives in an overcrowded apartment with five siblings and 18 half-siblings, admits resignedly, “If I could, I would clear out. I’m rotting in this place while my father takes all the welfare money.” However, Mamadou is a dropout who spends his time hanging out, getting into trouble. “All you need to make a Molotov cocktail is a bottle. You break off the gas cap of a truck and fill the bottle with gasoline. You throw a few of those, and you don’t have to worry about a thing. The police back off, and you can do anything you like.”
Kamel, age 16, has an even more disturbing personality. He brags to whoever will listen that during the riots he “set fire to a cop.” He took moving pictures with his cell phone, and replays the scene as if it were a video game. He dropped out of school a year ago and says he made the most of the occasion by burning many cars, “including ones that belonged to neighbors.”
Mamad, 25, says that every day for the last four years, the police “have really been hassling us. They ask for papers three times a day, sometimes when we are just waiting for the elevator. Before Sarkozy came along, it was “Good day. May I see your papers, please?” Now, its “OK, you little s**t, lie down on the hood of that car with your hands up and keep your trap shut.”
Karim has some final words of warning: “Don’t try to put us to sleep by asking us to wait indefinitely. For now, it’s just kids having a good time burning cars. . . . But us, we ain’t playing around. We want answers, not just more talk. Otherwise, make no mistake: there’s gonna be war.”
The Man to Watch
Call them “scum” but give them preferences.
Nicholas Sarkozy, the 50-year-old French interior minister, is likely to play a key role in any decisions France makes in light of the riots. He is a curious combination of tough talk and accommodation, who has emerged from the chaos as the odds-on favorite for the presidential elections in 2007.
Early in the riots, Mr. Sarkozy took media center stage by calling the rioters racaille, which means “rabble” or “scum.” This single word turned more people against Mr. Sarkozy than against the rioters. Muslim leaders insisted that he be fired, saying they did “not consider Sarkozy an appropriate negotiating partner” — as if there were anything to negotiate.
Noël Mamère, leader of the Green Party, actually called Mr. Sarkozy “a danger for French democracy,” and l’Humanité, the Communist newspaper, said he was “an arsonist pretending to be a fireman.” Hugues Lagrange, a researcher at the Paris Observatory of Social Change, said “Sarkozy’s choice of words makes me think of the rhetoric used by military police in racial dictatorships, and of regimes practicing ethnic cleansing.” Even President Chirac indirectly condemned Mr. Sarkozy’s language, saying that “the law shall be firmly applied, but in a spirit of respect and dialogue.”
Sensing correctly that the public was behind him, Mr. Sarkozy stuck to his guns. On a November 10 television broadcast, he repeatedly used the word racaille, saying, “They are thugs, scum, I repeat it and stand by it.” “I’d like someone to tell me,” he went on, “just what to call someone who attacks firemen, who stones them, who tosses a washing machine off an apartment building onto firemen? Young man? Sir? . . . Stop calling them ‘youths.’”
The public loved it; the loonies were nonplussede. “While intellectuals, social workers, journalists and the left were offended, the man and woman in the street were not,” was the lame conclusion of Pascal Perrineau, head of the Center for the Study of French Politics.
The public was again pleased when Mr. Sarkozy ordered regional authorities to deport all foreign rioters, even those in France legally. The plan bogged down in lawsuits, but roused the usual chorus. A group of 20 “human rights” organizations joined the Greens, Communists and the Revolutionary Communist League in calling deportation “manifestly illegal,” and accused Mr. Sarkozy of “scapegoating” foreigners.
Mr. Sarkozy likes to deport people. On Nov. 30, he noted that his department deported 15,000 illegal immigrants in 2004 and was on track for 20,000 in 2005. “I have set a target of 25,000 for 2006,” he said, adding that “I have embarked on a policy of systematically sending people back.” In 2003 he said if Muslim prayer leaders preached hatred he would strip them of citizenship and send them home. As good as his word, he has booted nearly 40.
Nor does he make excuses for rioters. On Nov. 15, during the parliamentary session on extending the curfew law for another three months, he lamented that “just 15 minutes from the center of Paris . . . French citizens triple-lock their doors, and live — or rather survive — with fear in their hearts.” Noting “the multiple and massive expenditures on the projects,” he said the results were “not commensurate with the sacrifices we have placed on the taxpayer.”
Mr. Sarkozy has even sniffed around the edges of the real problem. On Nov. 10, he told television network France 2: “An immigrant child from black Africa or North Africa has more problems than one from Sweden or Denmark or Hungary. That’s because of culture, because of polygamy, because of difficult social origins.”
He says past governments have been too cowardly to institute an immigration policy that meets the needs of France rather than the needs of immigrants, and that generosity towards immigrants has become indulgence. He wants to redirect feel-good welfare — subsidized vacations, clubs, soccer fields — to serious job training.
Some of his proposals are surprisingly soft. In 2001 he said a good way to assimilate immigrants would be to let them vote in local elections, but most controversial is his support for discrimination positive. France has avoided preferences by pouring money into neighborhoods. He says France must target individuals, and this means preferences:
“I’m shocked that there are no non-white police chiefs, judges, generals, or high officials. France is a multitude, and there are riches in that multitude. I don’t want to see just one French elite.” “French-style positive discrimination doesn’t mean quotas,” he adds. “It means creating real equal opportunity.”
Much can happen between now and the 2007 elections, but no one is likely to have a greater impact on the debate than Nicholas Sarkozy.
How Preferences Really Work
A lesson for us — and for the French.
Steven Farron, The Affirmative Action Hoax, Seven Locks Press, 2005, 405 pp., $18.95 (softcover).
Over the last 40 years, racial pref-erences for non-whites have wormed their way into virtually every corner of our lives. Whites were at first silent about institutionalized discrimination against themselves, but slowly began to object. Since the 1980s, there has been increasing criticism of “affirmative action,” but few authors can match Steven Farron for thoroughness, clarity, and utter disregard for contemporary pieties about race.
Prof. Farron, who left his job as a professor of classics at University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 2000 to study racial questions, stakes out his position early on: Affirmative action is “vicious anti-White discrimination.” It corrupts every institution it touches. The people who practice it lie about it. When they are forbidden to discriminate, they just try harder to cover their tracks. Their victims are whites — not deserving Asians or competent blacks whose achievements are devalued. And finally, they can never, ever succeed because the races are not equal. The Affirmative Action Hoax may well be the first book-length treatment of preferences that pulls no punches and respects no taboos.
It Begins With the Jews
As Prof. Farron correctly argues, a large part of the problem with “affirmative action” is that it is shot through with lies — beginning with the ridiculous euphemism itself. If the country wants to discriminate against whites, it should do so honestly and efficiently. This means using the best measures for evaluating candidates, and then boosting the scores of favored groups. The best evaluations, whether for college or on the job, are standardized tests. They predict performance better than interviews, recommendations, or past experience but they highlight racial differences in ability.
Therefore, if Harvard uses the best measures to admit only the smartest students it will get almost no blacks or Hispanics. If it is determined to have some, it should put them through the same objective evaluation and then boost their scores just enough to fill a quota. Prof. Farron is adamant: quotas and open score-boosting are the only honest, efficient way to practice preferences and get the best candidates of all races. Instead, recruiters downplay objective measures of candidates — precisely because they accentuate racial differences — and fill quotas for non-whites through jiggery pokery, protesting all the while that they are not lowering standards.
Prof. Farron introduces this subject from an unusual perspective: a summary of how American universities used to keep out Jews. He argues that the dodges the old WASP elite used parallel what goes on today; dishonesty goes back a long way.
Before standardized testing, admission to even the best schools was very informal. People with enough money for tuition and who knew they were from the right social classes went to the Ivy League. There were not even limits on class size at places like Harvard and Yale, and schools chose whomever they liked.
In 1899 the College Entrance Examination Board was established to give colleges an objective test for evaluating candidates. The Ivies started selecting for academic ability, and high-scoring Jews began to pour in. WASPs conceded that Jews were smart but thought they were boors. Rather than establish limits on Jewish enrollment, colleges came up with indirect ways to keep them out. Even before the First World War, Columbia began to claim “geographic distribution” was important, and went looking for students beyond heavily-Jewish New York City. The real purpose, as one administrator put it, was to get “Gentile boys of a desirable type.” Not long after, state universities in the rest of the country started charging out-of-state students higher tuition fees; Prof. Farron says it was mainly to keep out Jews.
In 1919, Columbia established the first college application form, in which it asked about extracurricular activities, and required essays and letters of recommendation. As the headmaster of the elite Horace Mann School put it, “it is clearly impossible to draw racial or class distinctions between applicants,” but by claiming to look for candidates who showed “manliness” and “leadership” as well as brains, Columbia managed to keep the number of Jews between 17 and 20 percent from 1918 to 1945. Prof. Farron says Columbia should have dispensed with the “manliness” ruse and simply set a tight quota on Jews. That way, it could use objective criteria to get the best students but still keep the number of Jews down.
That is exactly what Harvard tried to do in 1922. It announced it was going to stick to objective admissions criteria but keep Jews to 15 percent. President Abbott Lowell expected praise for such an open, honest system but was greeted with so much outrage that Harvard had to start discriminating secretly like everyone else. It issued application forms (one question was “What change, if any, has been made since birth in your name or that of your father?”), resorted to “geographical distribution,” and in 1926 limited the freshman class to 1,000. As President Lowell explained years later: “I tried, as you know, to find an open, fair, and practical solution, but was howled down by the preference of most people to profess one principle and act upon another. Any educational institution that admits an unlimited number of Jews will soon have no one else.”
Yale did the same things, limiting its class size, emphasizing the “manliness, uprightness, cleanliness, native refinement, etc.” said to be lacking in Jews, and adding preferences for children of alumni. Open quotas were out of the question because, as one admissions director noted, “The Jewish problem continues to call for the utmost care and tact.” In 1926, the Yale Daily News reported that Harvard’s application required a photo, and said Yale should go one better and require photos of applicants’ fathers, too. Only after Sputnik in 1957 did the pressure mount on selective colleges to end the quotas on smart Jews.
In Prof. Farron’s view, these were the intellectual antecedents of today’s racial preferences: Set up a labyrinthine but allegedly neutral selection process that was really a smokescreen for discrimination.
Prof. Farron traces today’s preferences back to John Kennedy’s Executive Order No. 10,925 of March 8, 1961, in which government was to take “affirmative action” to make sure people were hired without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. Immediately, this directive produced exactly the opposite result. In his admiring biography of Kennedy published in 1965, Arthur Schlesinger wrote, “The joke in Washington was that every department was sending posses out to recruit Negroes in order to avert the wrath of the White House.” In the two years ending in June 1963, the number of blacks in the top civil service grades jumped 88 percent. In other words, “equal opportunity” was a lie from the very beginning. It always meant discrimination against whites.
From the Kennedy days onward, the official assumption has been that the races are equal in every respect and that “racism” explains underrepresentation of blacks and Hispanics. Prof. Farron notes that this was the explanation for setting aside for minorities 10 percent of the $4 billion voted in 1977 for public works. Minority-owned businesses had been getting only one percent of the business, so although no one could actually find discrimination there had to be plenty of it.
Universities, about which Prof. Farron has gathered the most data, took up discrimination with gusto. From the 1960s to the 1980s, while whites were more or less somnolent, universities discriminated as they pleased. They drastically lowered standards for non-whites, and reserved university places, scholarships, and entire programs for them. Any non-white, whether descended from slaves or fresh from Mexico, could count on preferences.
Admissions staff knew there would be a stink if people knew what they were doing, so they kept the qualifications of non-whites a dark secret even from their own faculties. The official lie was that standards were no lower for non-whites or that race was a “tie-breaker” or gave only “a slight edge.” When there was a leak from the admissions office at Georgetown Law School — the differences in qualifications were spectacular — the school made the staff sign a statement swearing to keep mum.
The University of Michigan claimed it did not lower standards for blacks, and insisted that if they were dropping out, it was because of “institutional racism.” This gave the administration an excuse to lather blacks with benefits even after they were on campus. Later, when Freedom of Information suits crowbarred the data out of Michigan, it turned out blacks were showing up with a combined SAT deficit of 200 to 250 points compared to whites.
It was in the 1990s that whites began to beef. In 1996, the Hopwood decision banned university preferences in the 5th Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. That same year, California whites voted to overturn state-sponsored racial preferences (every other race, including Asians, voted to keep them). A few people in the Reagan Justice Department actually read what the civil rights laws said, and began to sue a few of the most blatant offenders.
University officials cooked up new ways to keep out whites — and were more cynical about it than ever. Chang-Lin Tien, chancellor of Berkeley, explained what he would do when preferences became illegal: “We can come up with some tricks.”
At first, the preference industry thought poverty could stand in for race: just boost the scores for poor kids, and they would get all the blacks and Hispanics they wanted. It didn’t work that way. As one disappointed California Hispanic discovered, “Using poverty yields a lot of poor white and Asian kids.” This was because the non-whites who were getting racial preferences were not children of sharecroppers or ghetto slugs. As the dean of Berkeley Law School explained, “African-Americans who apply to our law school are not disadvantaged. Their mothers and fathers are professionals with good family incomes.” She wanted preferences for them anyway.
Admissions officers pressed on with preferences for “overcoming adversity,” but poverty just didn’t count. Being non-white did, and staff started coaching non-white applicants on how to claim the right sort of “adversity.”
Another trick was to give as much weight to one achievement test as to the entire SAT. Children of non-white immigrants often take the achievement test in the language they speak at home, and get scores that are much better than their other grades. At one heavily-Hispanic high school in California, the average score on the Spanish achievement test was 715 out of 800; the average verbal and math scores were 390 and 402. UCLA gives as much credit for the high Spanish score as for the combined verbal and math SAT. Because of tricks like this, in 2001, the average SAT scores for Hispanics admitted to UCLA were 40 points lower than the average scores for whites who were rejected. UCLA, of course, claimed it wasn’t discriminating.
It would be wrong to think it is only university officials who stay up at night thinking of ways to discriminate against whites. After racial preferences were banned in Florida and Texas, the state legislatures voted to let anyone into state schools who graduated in the top 10 percent of his high school class. As Prof. Farron points out, “class rank is by far the most unreliable and unfair of all measures of academic performance. That is why these university systems adopted it.” They could funnel unprepared blacks and Hispanics into college and claim they weren’t discriminating.
The push is on to get rid of all objective standards because they underscore racial differences. At least 383 of America’s 1,788 four-year colleges no longer require the SAT or the ACT. In Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Louisiana, and Oregon, the entire state school system has abandoned standardized tests. This way, they can claim not to discriminate, use incomprehensible standards, and let in whomever they want.
Even the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) is backing away from the idea of objective testing. For years, SAT stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, but that began to sound like an intelligence test, so the CEEB renamed it the Scholastic Assessment Test. Now, it claims SAT is just letters that mean nothing. Over the years the board has added mush like essay questions, and has renormed the scores to eliminate distinctions among top scorers, that is to say, at levels where there are the fewest blacks and Hispanics.
There are no nationwide data for colleges, but there are for law schools, and they are illuminating. They show that 4.8 times as many blacks got into law school as would have if candidates were evaluated on only grades and LSAT (Law School Admission Test, if, in fact, these letters still stand for anything) scores. For other races, the figures are Puerto Ricans 3.1, Mexican-Americans 2.1, American Indians 2.0, Asians 1.55, and whites 0.8. Whites pay the price for every other group; 20 percent of the whites who should have gone to law school are kept out so three times as many Puerto Ricans and twice as many Mexicans could get in as would have made it without racial preferences. The standard lie is that non-whites were admitted because they were so richly endowed with the non-academic qualities law schools look for in addition to academic ability. Somehow, every other group — especially blacks — is better endowed than whites. The gaps at the most selective law schools are even greater. In 1990, 17.5 times as many blacks got in as would have if academic ability were the only qualification. Needless to say, many of these non-whites who are richly endowed with non-academic traits drop out or flunk the bar exam.
Medical schools play the same game. For years, the average college grades and MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) grades for blacks and Hispanics who get into medical school have been lower than the average grades for whites who are rejected. Nor is there a shred of evidence for the widely-promoted view that non-whites admitted to competitive schools will “catch up.”
Prof. Farron blasts the idea that Asians are victims of racial preferences just like whites. In the above example with law schools, 55 percent more Asians got in than under a system of strict ability. The proof is in the final result: 92 percent of whites pass the bar exam on the first try, but only 81 percent of Asians do.
Pass rates for the US Medical Licensing Exam also reflect preferences for Asians: In 1994, they were 93.4 and 96.3 percent for whites on parts one and two; 86.8 and 87.6 percent for Asians. On teacher competency exams as well, whites invariably do better than Asians.
Prof. Farron suspects most of the huffing and puffing about how affirmative action hurts Asians comes from whites who oppose preferences because they hurt whites but who are too cowardly to stick up for their own race.
The Affirmative Action Hoax includes a good treatment of biased grading, and describes some of the pressures for doing it. For example, the $3.5 billion health education bill of 1998 threatened to withhold government money from nursing schools from which non-whites do not graduate at the same rate as whites. In 1999, the University of Pittsburgh announced that if the average grades for non-whites in any department were lower than those for whites, the department’s budget would be cut. The consequences are obvious.
A 1998 experiment elegantly demonstrated the race effect on grades even without pressure. Researcher Kent Harber wrote a set of essays full of misspellings and grammatical errors. He wrote another identical set, except that there were hints, such as a reference to the Black Student Union, that the author was black. He then asked students to grade the papers. The students gave papers they thought were written by blacks an average grade of 3.5 out of 4.0. They gave an average grade of 2.7 to papers they assumed were written by whites.
Prof. Farron notes that scholarships are another example of blatant racial preferences, with wealthy non-whites often getting them while poor whites do not. This helps explain why, in 2001, 48.6 percent of white students had paying jobs but only 34.3 percent of blacks did. In 2002, 17 percent of white PhD students had to support themselves teaching, but only seven percent of blacks did.
Harvard gets only half of the black students it accepts, and once looked into why so many went elsewhere. The answer was money. Several blacks told Harvard that although they had family incomes of more than $150,000, other schools offered big scholarships. One of Harvard’s competitors offered a black $85,000 plus $10,000 in travel expenses every year.
More than 1,280 colleges pay the CEEB for lists of high-scoring blacks so they can recruit them — money is the most common incentive. The University of Michigan gives 80 of its “merit” scholarships (granted on non-academic grounds) to non-whites. One student, both of whose parents are doctors, explained, “I got a full-tuition scholarship, and I didn’t need it. I didn’t even apply for it.” Her mother was white and her father was black. That, Prof. Farron explains, was her “merit.”
Newspapers have occasionally written about blacks who are showered with scholarship offers despite mediocre grades. Prof. Farron notes that none ever expresses the slightest qualms about their offers because even children whose parents were affirmative-action babies think they deserve everything they can get.
Because no one can plausibly claim that today’s high school students are real victims of racial prejudice, the preferences industry now hangs its hat on the need for campus “diversity.” The 2003 Supreme Court Grutter and Gratz decisions (see “What the Supreme Court Did,” AR, Aug. 2003) officially upheld this justification for anti-white discrimination but insisted that preferences be based on “holistic” mumbo jumbo rather than straight preferences. The undergraduate school of the University of Michigan, which was the defendant in the Gratz case, had simply been tacking on a fixed premium for being black or Hispanic — it was worth considerably more than getting perfect SAT scores. The law school, which was the defendant in the Grutter case, had a mystic preferences ritual that examined the “whole applicant” but got the same result: a tidy quota of non-whites.
The Supreme Court said a straight score boost was unconstitutional but the mystic ritual was fine. The undergraduate school promptly switched to the ritual — and had to hire 51 new admissions officers to preside over it.
The diversity argument is a preposterous lie like all the rest. The most obvious form of diversity a university should seek is a variety of viewpoints, but campuses are unrelievedly liberal. Prof. Farron cites campuses where there are two or three registered Republicans for every 100 Democrats.
The diversity boosters always tell us how important it is to deal with people unlike ourselves, but they give their non-white darlings racially exclusive dorms, clubs, orientations, and even graduation ceremonies. Prof. Farron reports that in 1996, when Wesleyan ended up with an unexpectedly large number of freshman, it housed nine whites in Malcolm X House. Blacks shrieked, and the invaders ended up in the basement of the philosophy building.
Anti-white discrimination has been best studied in universities, but there is plenty of it elsewhere. In the 1960s, the US State Department dropped its language aptitude test because blacks did poorly on it. We may now have the only diplomatic corps in the world that ignores candidates’ foreign language ability.
Police departments have often been proving grounds for preferences and, fortunately, John Lott, now of the American Enterprise Institute, has studied them carefully. He has found that increasing the number of black officers invariably reduces the quality of the force and results in higher crime rates. In general, a one percent rise in the number of blacks raises property crime rates by four percent and violent crime rates by 4.8 percent. Hiring more Hispanics and American Indians also raises crime, but not by as much.
One problem with lowering standards to hire more non-whites means there is often no way to keep out second-rate whites either. Some police departments have gradually done away with every standard that could give racial disparities and now have essentially no objective way to evaluate candidates. (Dr. Lott also found that hiring women has consequences, too: For every one percent increase in women, there is a 15 to 19 percent increase in assaults on officers. Women officers are also more likely to shoot people than men are.) Prof. Farron notes that probably not one newspaper, newsweekly or television program has ever reported Dr. Lott’s findings.
Many other organizations suffer from lower standards. Several state bar associations worry about the low quality of the people passing the bar exam. Efforts to make the exams more difficult have gone nowhere because too many non-whites would fail.
A number of states now have teacher competency tests to eliminate boneheads. Often, they have had to be watered down to the point of meaninglessness so that more than a tiny minority of blacks and Hispanics can pass. Alabama’s case is a classic. In 1981, black teacher candidates sued the state because so many blacks were failing what had to be a “biased” test. In 1985, Alabama promised a test on which the black failure rate would be no more than five percent greater than the white rate. No such test could be devised, so the state stopped testing.
As always, as Prof. Farron points out, it is far better to have tests than not. An honest preference system would simply give blacks extra points. That would be the only way to make the black pass rate approach the white rate, but at least the worst dummies could be culled.
The Larger Context
Good as this book is on the details of preferences, it is essentially silent on their larger context. Why is there a preference industry at all? Why do whites discriminate against themselves? Prof. Farron’s historical parallel with WASPs and Jews is interesting but fails completely at the most crucial point: motive. When WASPs kept out Jews they were protecting their own interests. WASPs built the Ivy League and wanted to keep it for themselves. Non-WASPs may gasp with indignation, but a proprietary view of one’s own institutions is normal.
What whites are doing now is completely abnormal. What is the state of mind of a college admissions officer whose job is to practice discrimination against people who might as well be his own sons and daughters? Blacks who work in admissions behave normally; they advance the interests of people like themselves. Whites thwart the interests of people like themselves. This is an aberration of gigantic proportions but Prof. Farron almost seems not to notice.
Why, also, do the preference people lie about what they do? Presumably, because they are afraid they would have to stop if the rest of us knew what they were up to. Presumably they think they know what is best for us but we are too stupid or selfish to understand. But just what is it they know best? That blacks still have to be compensated for slavery? That Mexican immigrants really do deserve preferences over native-born whites? That “diversity” is essential to an education? That whites are wicked and must be harried and humiliated? That only by going to school with blacks and Mexicans can whites conquer their “racism?” They must think something, and it would be worth exploring what it is.
This is admittedly a murky subject, but it is a little surprising that an author who has ripped away so many pretenses seems to have made no effort to understand the motives of the people whose actions he has studied so carefully.
The second edition of The Affirmative Action Hoax is now available from New Century Press.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
Trinidad, seven miles off the coast of Venezuela, has been an Anglophone country since Britain took it from Spain in 1797 along with neighboring Tobago. Nearly all of its 1.3 million inhabitants speak English, cricket is a national sport, and the main business district is called Scarborough. In 2004, however, the government decided that Spanish — spoken by just 1,500 residents, but by most of Trinidad’s trading partners — was the language of the future, and began making plans to make it the official language by 2020. Beginning this year, all schoolchildren must study Spanish, and a third of all government workers must be “linguistically competent” in Spanish within five years.
Sharlene Yuille, spokesman for the Secretariat for the Implementation of Spanish, explains that “people in the private sector can see the benefits learning Spanish could have on their businesses.” The government also hopes switching to Spanish will help in its bid to become the headquarters of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The majority of the 800 million consumers in this proposed hemispheric trade bloc speak Spanish.
The change has met surprisingly little resistance, perhaps because the nation has never been monolingual (40 percent of the population are Hindi-speaking South Asians). Patrick Wong, a British national and administrator of a local school, says the country has no lasting roots anyway: “The point of a cosmopolitan place is that different people speaking different languages can mix and feel good. It’s a question of being open-minded and of adapting to what’s needed,” he says. [Elizabeth Davies, Hola! Trinidad Drops English and Learns to Speak Spanish, Independent (London), Sept. 1, 2005.]
Older and Wiser
Dating across racial lines is on the increase in the United States, and is most common among younger people. Sociologists Kara Joyner of Cornell University, and Grace Kao of the University of Pennsylvania found that in 1990, 14 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds were in interracial relationships; by 2000, 20 percent were crossing racial lines. There is less race-mixing among older Americans. In 1990, 12 percent of 20- to 21-year olds were in interracial relationships, but for 34- to 35-year-olds the figure was seven percent. (Information for 2000 was less complete but showed a similar pattern.) Interracial marriage is much less common than dating: in 2002, only 2.9 percent of American marriages were interracial.
Hispanics, who were counted as a separate race in the study, did the most interracial dating — 33 percent of 24- to 25-year-olds. Comparable figures for blacks and whites were 14 and 12 percent. The researchers also found that people who date across racial lines are less willing to talk about it to family and friends than people who date within their race. [Susan S. Lang, Interracial Relationships are on the Increase in U.S., Cornell University Press Release, Nov. 2, 2005.]
Wisdom from the Past
One would never know it by what comes out of Washington, DC, now, but the US government once took a very hard-headed view of race and Reconstruction. The following is from a government textbook intended for immigrants applying for citizenship in the 1920s:
“For some time [white Southerners], too, formed secret societies to keep the dishonest negroes from stealing, to scare them away from the polls on election day, and to drive the carpetbaggers out of their States. Sometimes negroes had been encouraged to steal crops from the planters and trade them for worthless jewelry, liquor, or promises of land. The secret societies of the Southern people were successful in bringing order and peace to the States, where houses and barns were being burned and property was being stolen. Gradually the people who had made the trouble between the white and black people of the South left and people everywhere began to settle down to a more peaceful life. From time to time, Congress repealed some of its reconstruction laws and the white people of the South were again able to rule the South. They made it impossible for the negroes ever to control their community or State governments in the future by passing laws which kept them from voting unless they had property, or could read, or had never been guilty of a crime.”
“A few other States besides those of the South now require voters to prove they can read before they are permitted to vote.” [Lillian P. Clark, Our Nation: Lessons on the History and Government of Our Nation for Use in the Public Schools by Candidates for Citizenship, Part III of the US Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Naturalization’s Federal Textbook on Citizenship Training (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1926), p. 194.]
Illegal Death Tax
Illegal immigrants who make it across the border cost American taxpayers billions of dollars by using hospitals and welfare, filling jails, and sending their children to public schools. But even illegals who die in the desert cost us money. Over the past five years, New Mexico authorities have recovered more than 100 bodies along the Mexican border. The authorities must take the bodies to a morgue, and pay for autopsies that cost $2,500 each. In Arizona, officials have so far this year recovered 224 bodies in just two desert sectors, Yuma and Tucson. Since most of the corpses lack identification, the state scans fingerprints, checks dental records, and notifies the Mexican consulate to try to locate relatives. The state buries or cremates unclaimed bodies and then presents the $3,000 bill to the county in which it was found. [Border States Pay for Illegals’ Deaths, NewsMax.com, Sept. 7, 2005.]
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — What struck me with particular force in Michael Widmark’s second installment on the state of national preservation in Scandinavia was the way the United States influences thinking all around the world. I would never have guessed that news footage of helpless New Orleans blacks could influence Swedish welfare policy, or that the Danes welcomed our invasion of Iraq because it meant they no longer had to accept Iraqi refugees.
This leads me to something I have mused on for years: false portrayals of multi-racialism in the American media. Our movies and television serve up a fantasy brew of black judges, white street thugs, black scientists, blond swindlers, and wise American Indians. Only whites are “racist,” and racial harmony always triumphs. In some European countries, American productions fill half the movie theaters and even more of the air time. A constant anti-white, pro-miscegenation message cannot help but influence European racial and immigration policies.
Our news media are only slightly better, constrained as they are by realities Hollywood can ignore. Foreigners who know no better are likely to think the United States really has reshaped human nature to strains of “We Shall Overcome” and “Kumbaya.” This lie that we have broadcast for the last 40 years is probably the source of as much damage to Europe as anything since the Second World War.
Carl Hunt, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Sir — While I appreciate the work of Bruce Lahn, Chris Brand’s comments about that young Chinese — and his principles — are somewhat misleading. An article about Dr. Lahn in the August 29, 2005, issue of The Scientist is more enlightening. To begin with, Dr. Lahn was not, as Mr. Brand implies, involved in the events of Tiananmen Square; when that crackdown took place, he was already at Harvard University. While it is true that Dr. Lahn was an anti-communist dissident in his youth, he is no longer a political rebel and instead opposes regime change in his homeland because the alleged costs would be too high.
Indeed, Dr. Lahn, who built his career upon the scientific infrastructure and freedoms found in America, has declared that an important personal priority is to boost science in China and make that nation — which is America’s foremost competitor and a possible future military threat — a leader in the world. That seems to me a stinging slap in the face to the country and people who gave him refuge all these years, and the opportunity to become successful and prosperous. Blood is not only thicker than water; apparently it is thicker than ideology, success, and gratitude as well.
Sir — During the orgy of adulation for Rosa Parks I kept waiting for someone to explain why she deserved it, and now Jared Taylor writes that she really was a symbol and nothing more. Whites, of course, must never voice skepticism about her allegedly magnificent achievements, but there must be blacks who know how unimportant she was. Why are they silent? Why do no “civil rights” leaders try to deflect some of Parks’s glory onto the people who actually did the hard work of organizing and running the bus boycott?
I have two theories. First, they may be happy to see whites kissing the toe of any black person, no matter how undeserving, and don’t want to interfere. Second, people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are saying to themselves: “Here is a woman who did nothing but sit down on a bus, and look how the whites fawn over her. I’ve spent years fighting ‘racists,’ starting organizations, running for President, and hobnobbing with Senators. I’ll get an even more lavish sendoff!”
Whatever the explanation, the spectacle is sickening.
Sharon Hollis, Mussel Shoals, Ala.
Sir — The European/American Issues Forum (E/AIF) applauds the work of American Renaissance. E/AIF is a civil rights organization for European American whites, and is one of the few organizations consistently challenging local, state and federal agencies to recognize the rights and grievances of our people.
We are the only organization that has been able to convince a state assembly and senate to adopt a European American Heritage Month — we have also managed to persuade seven cities in San Mateo County, California, to adopt a similar heritage month.
E/AIF has created a picture exhibit called “The European Americans Among Us — A Celebration of Diversity and Achievement” that we have shown in the San Francisco Main Public Library, the community college campuses of Cañada, Skyline, Foothill and Evergreen, and at the San Mateo County Senior Center. We continue to present our best European-American image to the public.
Activism is what we are all about. I invite you to join us.
Louis Calabro, President
PMB 253, 1212 H El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA 94066
Sir — I was pleased to see the graceful poetry by Mark Zappala in your December issue. I have never before seen “white” poetry, that was not crude doggerel. I hope Mr. Zappala continues in this vein. The head of the Pietà was the perfect picture to accompany the poem.
Tracy Snow, Lancaster, Penn.
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