November 7, 2005

Help me out here

I think understand American and British riots fairly well, but I'm not sure I know what's going on in France. Essentially, what happens here is that people notice that the cops have lost control of an area, so they can get free stuff (or as Robin Williams derisively called it during the LA riots in 1992, "political shopping.") For example, when my wife was a little girl, on the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated, she looked out of her house window on the West Side of Chicago and noticed that neighbors were walking down the street holding new televisions. "Look, mom, free TVs! Let's get some!" Her mom locked her in her room.

Similarly, during the 1992 Michael Jordan victory riots in Chicago following the Bulls' NBA championship, a mob of white yuppies looted the best book store in Chicago, Stuart Brent's on Michigan Ave. (where I used to see Saul Bellow browsing), of coffee table art books.

The gigantic Rodney King riots earlier that year in LA got started when thugs broke into liquor stores at Florence and Normandie. The LAPD, having been dragged across the coals for a year over excessive use of force in subduing that philosopher, said, in effect, "Forget it, we're not going to bother, let the public see who the real bad guys are," and let the drink-soaked mob run amok.

So, are the riots in France primarily driven by looting? Or are they more of an intifada intended to intimidate the government into handing out expensive concessions? Or just tough guys showing off? Or what?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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