Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Terrorism in Toulouse

While the French media ask how a man who was under surveillance managed to amase a weapons cache, I have a bigger question, one that I am sure the French will be asking themselves once the memorals are over and the bodies burried: What social forces push these people toward delinquency that would land them in jail to be radicalized? Did this young man, and his brother who seems to also be radicalized, feel marinalized? These are questions we ask every thime there is an attack.

Toulouse is heavily populated with Pieds Noirs, North African born French who are often resented in France, or at least noted as something “Other”. Mohamed Merha was French, born of Algerian immigrants. This also made him an “other”. And being "other" in France means exclusion. The French media focuses on his troubled teen years, his delinquency, and even refers to him as the “madman”, but that is just too easy. Madmen aren't born. They are made. They are products of their homes and communities.

Toulouse is a agriculture region that, true to form, votes conservative. Le Pen or his party reps usually do pretty well in conservative Southern France. However, in the last elections, the socialists took the Midi-Pyrenees, the department where Toulouse dominates. This is in large part because Muslim voters, who made up about 5%of voters in the 2007 election, went socialist. That doesn't sound like a large share, but made a huge difference. Sarko’s get-tough on immigrants talks scared many of them away. Toulouse is a first and foremost, a city of immigrants.

Today on the streets of Toulouse there was a “million person march” in honor of the victims. And this weekend, there will be another silent march to the Jewish school where the students and teachers were shot. Among the banners being unfurled in Toulouse today were two in particular that were noted in the Depeche Du Midi, the regional daily newspaper. The two were written in French, Arabic, Hebrew, and Occitan (regional dialect). One said: “Live Together: equality, solidarity, dignity” and the second said: “Jews, Christians, Muslims, same God:Love”. The meta message beyond the multilingualism is clear and strikes me as a changed attitude. In my days in Toulouse, in the late 1990s, such a thing would not have been seen. Let's hope it will continue.

4 comments:

Raised By Republicans said...

I'm assuming that France has a functioning welfare state where even the unemployed have basic food, shelter, access to education for their kids, and healthcare.

In the American debate the left usually argues that if we had that level of social support in the US we could massively reduce teen criminality. So either teen criminality in France is much lower than in the USA (which I would bet is the case). If that's true, then this tragedy in Toulouse can be seen as an usual event. Or, there is something other than the social safety net that is driving these problems. Maybe it's that European decent French are imposing some kind of more or less informal racist system on the country.

I suspect it's a combination of the two. That suggests to me that in the US, we could institute all the social safety net programs we want but as long as there are parts of the country where a neighborhood vigilante and chase down, assault and murder a kid just because he's the "wrong" race for the neighborhood, it won't solve a thing.

USWest said...

The problem in France isn't the lack of a social safety net. It's exclusion and racism. I am also supposing that the influx of immigrants has made it particularly difficult for France to absorb them all.

Keep in mind that youth unemployment has long plagued France. Restless youth with little to do are susceptible to trouble. And radicalization in French prisons doesn't make things any easier. And of course, being Algerian, or of Algerian descent doesn't help in the French job market.

Raised By Republicans said...

I've heard that French employers routinely require a photograph be attached to job applications. They should ban that practice for a start.

USWest said...

This is true. You can start there. But the names give the background away. There is a big difference between Duprey and Merha.