Friday, 11 November 2005

A Comment

I have received the comment below from my previous post on the subject of the recent riots in France:
I enjoyed your article, but it seems to me that there may be an additional problem here,open borders, that is shared by many other countries as well.
Perhaps there are many Frenchmen who do not want "Cheap" labor flooding the country and vying for the same jobs they themselves need. When you add to this the tendency of many of these people to not want to assimilate it creates resentment.In addition,because of the high birth rate of many of these immigrants, and the lower birth rate of the French, it is estimated that France will lose it's national identity in forty years. Personally, I feel if a person does not want to become "French", but instead retain his own ethnic identity, perhaps he should remain in his own country and work to make it better rather than immigrate to another mans country and expect them to accommodate his customs.
I am very sorry to have to say this to a new visitor to my blog and someone who took the trouble to leave of comment, of which I am grateful, but this opinion shows nothing more than a complete lack of knowledge of the current situation in France.

The problem has very little to do with immigration, not the immigration allowed by the Schengen treaty, which is refered to in the above. If immigration has to be included in this equation, one has to go back to 1950's during Les Trente Glorieuses, a period of incredible econimic growth during which France had to resort to a workforce recruited mostly in what was left of its dwindling colonial empire. There was also a strong migratory flow coming from Poland, Italy and Portugual the same time. The country was more than happy of this extra workforce feeding its economic growth. The people forming this wave of immigration on the whole integrated quite nicely. There were after all not economical insecurity to creat social tensions. It is probably fair to say however that the european immigrant probably integrated better than the mostly north african ones. I do not think however that this is due to an unwillingness on the part of these poeple as is suggested in the comment but simply because the cultural differences were far greater and the gap more difficult to bridge.

In any case the people rioting today in the street of France are not immigrants. They are French people, born in France. The third and fourth generations sons and daughters of the 1950's immigrants. Far from expecting other French people "to accommodate [their] customs", the lifestyle of these young men (I assume here, perhaps wrongly, that there are few women involved in the riots) is as european as can be and probably bears very little resemblance to the one their forefathers left behind them when they were invited to France. The problem, as I have stated before does not stem from an unwillingness to integrated but from the fact that, although most of them are citizens of the country, they are still made to feel like foreigners because of their origin. When someone feels rejected, their first instinct is to reject even further in return.

Finally, I am not sure what relevance to I can attach to the demographic argument developped in the comment. It seems to me to be pure and simple xenophobia, which, I think at the root of the crisis. If I understand my reader's position and if it is shared in France as he assumes it is, then surely the rioters should not be the descendant of immigrants who are currently rioting but rather those evanescent and hypothetical "true French" who fear that demoraphic invasion or those "many Frenchmen who do not want "Cheap" labor flooding the country and vying for the same jobs they themselves need". All of them happily forgetting in the process that France had always been a terre d'asile which stemmed from and continuously strived on foreign influences.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. We in the United Kingdom are all very grateful for your cheap labour, Zefrog.

  2. I found your blog surfing.

    Your analysis of the situation on Paris streets, makes sense. It has nothing to do with Iraq, al Qaeda, Iraq, Afghanistan, immigration, or George Bush.


  3. "It has nothing to do with Iraq, al Qaeda, [...] or George Bush for the very simple reason that the French government opposed the war in Iraq.


Please leave your comment here. Note that comments are moderated and only those in French or in English will be published. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and to leave a thought.