On the one hand I’m appalled that the French police is reacting this passively to the Muslim riots. On the other I think that it may be better to show restraint while they don’t have a real strategy for handling the rioters. Going in without a plan could well lead to more bloodshed than would otherwise ever happen. Besides, so far nobody has been killed except the two idiots who were electrocuted when they ran into a transformer house.
Also restraint definitively is better than this:
On October 17, 1961, thousands of Algerian immigrants living in Paris took to the streets in support of the national liberation struggle being waged in Algeria against France by the FLN (Front Libération National – National Liberation Front). In response, the Paris police department violently broke up the demonstations, as well as took other severe actions related to the demonstrations. While the police originally claimed that only three deaths resulted from the conflict, historians estimate that between 32 and 200 demonstrators died. With almost no media coverage at the time, the events surrounding the massacre, as well as the death toll, were almost unknown both in France and worldwide for decades. For this reason, there is no generally-used name to designate these events.
The Paris massacre of 1961 appears to have been intentional. …
As noted on this Wikipedia page, some question the article’s objectivity, so here’s another source for corroboration.
Also, don’t forget that French troops killed several hundred thousand Algerians between 1952 and 1962 in order to keep the country a French colony.
Compared to this, (maybe) excessive restraint, or officials squabbling among themselves if Sarkhozy was wrong to call the rioters scum, doesn’t seem to be all that bad.
Update: Some may have misunderstood what I was getting at. I wrote that I have mixed feelings, but I don’t advocate a weak response to the riots at all. Then again, any response has to be based on some kind of plan, and the French leadership doesn’t seem to have any right now, nor are they agreed on what to do. A crackdown is fine, as long as the police moves into the suburbs with some kind of plan. If they go in without some kind of strategy, and are beaten back, if only locally, it will be far worse than maybe excessive restraint, as far as encouragement for the rioters is concerned. Once they go in in force and well prepared, and finally rout the mobs, any perception of weakness on the side of the authorities will soon be forgotten. In the meantime the non-violent majority in the suburbs, including the Muslims, are getting fed up with the riots, for they bear the brunt of the riots.
For perspective, the riots in L.A. 1992 cost 50 lives in three days, so far there don’t seem to have been any in France. Ginny raises the point in the comments that rioting deaths in France may have been gone unreported since the police isn’t going into these areas even in good times, but I think that is unlikely – if there had been any deaths, the organizers behind the riots would have tried to blame them on the police. They would be eager to drag dead bodies into the spotlight, and if the media wouldn’t report them, they would do it themselves online.
To sum it up, the situation is serious, but it isn’t desperate, and I don’t feel any psychological need to prove that I have big pair by calling for bloodshed. It’s all fine and good to demand a crackdown from a distance, but up close it isn’t all that simple.
Update II: Please see my next post above.