Today exasperated residents of riot-torn suburbs staged a sit-in near the Eiffel Tower, calling for an end to more than two weeks of car burnings and vandalism across France.
“Stop the Violence,” read one banner draped on the Wall of Peace near the Paris monument.
Some of the 200 demonstrators – a small turnout in protest-friendly France - waved white flags.
As the unrest continued to decline, dozens of civic groups timed their demonstration to coincide with Armistice Day hours after an official military commemoration.
We've all heard the jokes about French cowardice in the face of the enemy, but France's reaction has passed into self-parody. Especially when the media's greatest outrage is saved, not for the rioters, but for the police for using a little rough language:
THIS is an extract of a verbal exchange between police and estate teenagers near Lyons, shown on the TF1 television channel.First a boy addresses a police officer who has demanded the boy’s papers in rough terms — using the disrespectful “tu” instead of a formal “vous” — and told him to “shut your face”
First boy: “You (Vous) tell us to ‘shut your face’ and we haven’t done anything, Monsieur”
Policeman: “You want me to take you into an electricity sub-station?” (where two teenagers were electrocuted)
First boy: “Sorry Monsieur, you are being rude and I haven’t spoken to you, M’sieur”
Policeman: “In that case don’t talk. We’re telling you to get back, so get back”
First boy: “Listen Monsieur, we are using ‘vous’ with you but you and your colleague are using ‘tu’ with us. We are respectful . . .”
A second boy insults a bald policeman, saying: “Good for you, you’ve got cancer, you’re all bald”
Second policeman: “So you want to go and fry with your mates? You want to go into the transformer? Shut your ugly mug, we’re going to give you a going over”
First boy: “If that’s the way it is, do you think that the estate will calm down?”
Third policeman: “We don’t give a shit if the estate calms down or not. Actually, the more it gets f****d up, the happier we are”
Note: It appeared that the polite boy knew that the television camera was there — but the police did not.
What the hell did they expect the gendarmes to do? Serve them baguettes and cognac and talk about Frantz Fanon would have done?
All of this concern for the rioters masks a deeper problem with France in particular and Europe in general: its loss of cultural self-confidence.
Having lost faith in the Christian religion that sustained its great achievements and fallen into despair for itself and the future as a result, it is no longer able to defend the virtues that made Europe great.
The Muslims insurgents may be inferior to their European enemies in almost every respect: socially, culturally, intellectually, and technologically.
But they have an unbounded confidence in the truth of Islam, its superiority, and in its inevitable triumph. Europe no longer believes in the truth or rightness of anything, not even of itself.
The poorest Muslim in a Paris ghetto has more confidence in himself and his culture than the wealthiest secular native Frenchman.
Whoever has the will to fight, will win the fight. And France has none.