Cultural Revolutions

Riots in France

The riots in France were occupying my thoughts at the end of a long day, when the telephone rang.  It was a friend who lives in Metz, a quiet town that is a long train ride away from Paris.  “I’m looking out my window,” he said, “watching an apartment building going up in flames.  A police helicopter is going back overhead, but nothing is being done to stop the rioters.”

I had been watching the news since the disturbances broke out, and, on All Saints, I noted that, of nearly 300 stories on Google mentioning France, only one was an American reference to the violence.  When the Washington Post and the New York Times finally made up their minds that the news could not be suppressed—always a painful decision for them to have to make—we quickly learned about French racism and the plight of the poor Arabs and Africans.

But, if a desire for better jobs is the reason why Muslim young men in France are rioting, raping, setting buildings and women on fire, what explains their behavior everywhere else in the world?  In Egypt, where they riot to protest a secular government.  In Pakistan, where they stage cross-border raids into India for the sole purpose of killing non-Muslims.  In New Jersey, where they went into the streets to celebrate their victory on September 11.

To take the argument back to the source, how do we explain...

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