Sunday, November 06, 2005

France: A right-wing assimilationist utopia

I'm struck by the unrestrained glee emanating from righty bloggers over the rioting in France this past week.

For instance, this is just one of many, but InstaPundit links to a blogger who bizarrely declares: "The current intifada in France has stripped the American Left of its second Utopia in a generation. The Left lost its earlier worldly utopia when the Soviet Union fell apart."

Are they kidding?

As the NYT points out today (and a passage that InstaPundit curiously omits in his linking to the same article) France's policy towards immigrants is every hard-right, total-assimilationist's wet dream:
The government has been embarrassed by its inability to quell the disturbances, which have called into question its unique integration model, which discourages recognizing ethnic, religious or cultural differences in favor of French unity. There is no affirmative action, for example, and religious symbols, like the Muslim veil, are banned in schools.

What's not to love? National unity, denial of heritage, no affirmative action, subjugating ethnicity to the larger state, a "French Identity." Paging Patrick Buchanan!

FYI, here's a very interesting round-up in Migration Information on France's recent attempts to tinker with its immigration and assimilation policies. An earlier piece analyzing France's abandonment and re-adoption of the assimilation policy is here. (including the "integration contract" that immigrants are forced to sign). The piece also argues that it was pressure from newly ascendant right-wing groups in France that pushed the country from its "integrationist" to its more explicit "assimilation" policies:

France pursued an "integrationist" policy from the mid-1980s onward, devoting government resources to organizations that encouraged immigrants to abide by the law but retain their distinctive cultures and traditions. Starting around 2000, however, right-wing political leaders began to tap public perceptions that immigrants were responsible for increased crime. As their efforts helped shift the French debate to the right, the idea of "assimilation"—explicit pressure on immigrants to adopt quintessentially French behavior and traditions—was revived.

As I've said, I'm curious why it is that right wingers are taking heart in the rioting news. But I have my educated guesses.

UPDATE: Welcome, Eschatonians. And check out this short history of some of the complex issues related to French immigration by a Sunderland University professor here and here and here.

LATER: Clash of Civilizations! Yay!

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 9:38 AM

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