Thursday, November 03, 2005

Is Paris Burning?

Quite a situation might be brewing in France this fall with a riot sparked by the deaths of two African-born teenagers. The two were electrocuted after hiding in an electrical substation while fleeing police--a claim denied by police. Immigrants, ten percent of the French population, in the Paris suburbs have rioted for 7 days. More backlash against immigration is likely to be forthcoming for our beleaguered ally. Europe has been uneasy with the steady flow of immigrants, particularly Muslims, for a number of years in unlikely places such as traditionally tolerant Netherlands. Most Europeans have expressed outrage over the Iraq invasion by the U. S. because they are worried about possible repercussions like the terrorist attacks in Spain and U.K. Many Europeans, after centuries of nearly incessant warfare, don't have the stomach for combat and they are afraid of straining relations with Islam further inciting terrorist acts and the attacks in Spain and U.K. confirmed the fears for most.

Turkey has sought entry into EU for years and has been on track for admission since 1999 and in October of 2005 admission talks ,which may last 10 years, began. Although a Muslim nation's entry into EU could be an important step in the West's War on Terror, Europeans are nervous about the high unemployment in Turkey and the lack of shared traditions regarding human and civil rights and the role of the military in maintaining its 90 years of secular rule. Germany has had a number of hate-crime incidents against Turkish immigrants and fear higher numbers once they can cross borders with ease as citizens of an EU member nation.

However, Turkey may feel more pressure to continue cold-shouldering the American effort in Iraq. Turkey refused to allow American forces to invade across their southern border with Iraq. Could they continue their disconnect with the U.S. regarding the Iraq War so as not to inflame the ire of France and Germany, two key members of EU? Turkey is likely more afraid of fundamentalist backlash in their 'secular' Muslim nation and a future angry Iraq nation if it ever regains its ability to self-govern. Ataturk single-mindedly tried to drag his people into modernity and forming a secular government was an important component in that effort after the First World War ended and the old Ottoman Empire had officially crumbled after choosing the wrong side of the conflict.

Paris may not burn, but its suburbs are a different matter. I'm certain many Americans are glad to see an eruption by a largely disenfranchised immigrant population, including a number of illegal immigrants, in France, since the perception exists that they don't properly support American foreign policy and have done business with nations and governments hostile to America, including Iraq until the day the invasion began(they are still involved in business transactions in Iraq). France hasn't cornered the market on doing business with brutal, undemocratic nations; the U.S. has had its hands in business transactions with some deadly world leaders over the years.

Times are tough economically throughout the world and closing borders is the usually the first step toward solving problems, particularly in heavily industrialized nations like France and the U. S., like lost jobs and stagnant business environments. The U.S. has its own immigration concerns with the porous Mexican border and also have concerns with the equally porous Canadian border, particularly their large Muslim population of potential al-Qaeda minions. NW Arkansas is full of Latin American immigrants from Mexico as well as many Central and South American countries. The Mexican government have attempted to shut their southern door tight(with some prodding by the U.S.), but have no qualms about aiding their own citizens who wish to cross the U.S. border.

The entire western industrialized world will always lack workers, particularly in western Europe, where negative growth has been recorded in population for Germany in particular for years. NW Arkansas has a number of jobs they can't fill with citizens, but immigrants manage to find their way here looking for any work. The immigration issue will be prominent in democratic nations forever because there is a good reason to seek residency and eventual citizenship, if possible, within their borders. Our way of life is a model for the world, despite some of the problems. I hope that never changes.


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