The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Location: Palms - L.A, California

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Being Your Own Editor, Plus Two Paris Items

Now, let me tell ya, being your own editor ain't easy. Typos, cuttin' and pastin', new ideas, hindsight, the temptation to add a point here and there, to tweak things just one more time...Yes, I too succumb to all of these vices and foibles, so if you're interested in a particular piece you might want to re-check it every so often (don't forget to refresh your browser, lest you get a stale n' cached version.) Major updates will, however, result in brand new posts with the necessary links. Right now, I'm trying to translate more of Lilian Thuram's eloquence. My own French is neither florid nor fluent (ok, that's an understatement,) but I'll get there.

In the meantime, I wanted to recommend two items that speak to the situation in France. First, Mathieu Kassowitz's 1995 cinematic masterpiece La Haine/Hate, starring a young, intense Vincent Cassel as well as Hubert Kounde and Said Taghmaoui. It recounts a day in the life of three friends from a Parisian banlieu. It will tear your heart out.

Secondly, Robert Leiken (who works at both the Nixon Center and the Brookings Institution, two non-partisan Washington D.C. think tanks) just wrote an excellent Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times on the unemployment and assimilation issues as well the contrast between the youth and their immigrant parents/grand-parents. A longer piece, written this summer, was published in Foreign Affairs. Aside from a too heavy focus on the religious aspect (btw, a sizeable part of the population in the banlieues are not Muslim but Christians of Caribbean and African descent) and the slightly alarmist conclusion, I'd have to say that he is right on the money. If I had read his pieces before I wrote mine, I could rightly be accused of blatant plagiarism. Instead, a Realist scholar - btw, calling Sarkozy a 'populist' merits kudos in my book - and I actually seem to be in agreement.

However, his claim that millions of Eastern Europeans have poured into Western Europe needs to be taken with a grain of salt. This was the fear sown by the Le Pens and Haiders as well as plenty of mainstream politicians like Sweden's Prime Minister Göran Persson, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and of course Sarkozy and Chirac. The problem with the claim is that, with one major exception, it hasn't happened. The exception? Great Britain under Prime Minister Tony Blair - which along with Ireland and Sweden (despite Persson's shenanigans) were the only European Union members to agree to real labor mobility when the ten Eastern countries acceded last year - not only saw an increase in immigration but welcomed it. At least someone understood that the principles of the European Union are not really about subsidizing over-producing farmers or stuffing a technocrat constitutional treaty down people's throats.

I was reminded of Leiken since he was just on C-Span, the American public service channel that broadcasts Congress sessions and much much more. Just to recap one point he made, which I think illustrates his desire to be nuanced. He referred to how Marseilles in southern France, which has a larger minority AND Muslim population, had not experienced the same mayhem as in Paris. There they do not live in isolated, suburban hell-holes of festering alienation. In that sense, Marseilles sounds a lot like Berlin with sun, beaches, lham bel foul and croissants aux amandes.

You can watch the segment here. Just look for the 12 November 'Washington Journal' and the Robert Leiken part. If you do, be aware that you almost got to hear my staccato. For about 20 minutes, I tried to get through to pose a question or rant a little. The moderator had pleaded for some calls from old Europe. But when I got through a kindly voice regretfully told me that Mr. Leiken had 'just left the set.'
Shucks and dangnabbit. I'll be back.

UPDATE: Yours truly just figured out that he actually has to moderate and publish the comments that have been 'pouring' in. Accordingly, you'll now find your comments, and real soon my replies, below. Also, a couple of the posts have been track-backed (i.e. been linked to.) It'll snowball from here on in.


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