Thursday, January 8, 2015

What can the US learn from France?

Simon Heffer offered this observation about France and its Muslim population, "Above all, France has an abominable record of managing its Muslim community – which has, in turn, become increasingly radicalised in the grim suburbs (banlieues) of northern Paris, from which countless young men have gone to fight as jihadis in Syria."  He goes on, "Ever since the Algerian war of independence broke out 60 years ago, there has been hostility between native French and the country’s increasing Muslim population (estimated now to total as much as 7 per cent)."  (Daily Mail)

The US needs to recognize it faces similar challenges here. We often think about the African American (13.2%) and Hispanic American communities (17.1%) as being disenfranchised with the government but we rarely think about our own Muslim community (6.67%).  Too often, Americans like to dismiss the issues raise by those who identify themselves as some type of hyphenated American.  The reason is we should all just celebrate being American and stop look for reasons to be different.

The argument makes a nice sound byte for conservative politicians and Christian ministers but what the argument is really doing is it the other person's problem.  "If you are African-American and don't like it here, why don't you go back to Africa?"  Stupid and racist but most importantly, it fails to recognize the concerns raised by a group of Americans.

The same mentality is why France has 12 dead and at least two terrorists running amok with AK-47s and rocket launchers.  The French way of life is thought to be so superior that former President Sarkozy said, "the burqa was not welcome in France, as it was a symbol of female subservience."  His statement missed the fact the burqa is also part of the Muslim religious identity.

In the US, African-Americans still struggle with the legacy of slavery.  White Americans tend to dismiss these struggles as "victim-mentality" or "race-baiting".  The dismissal does not change how African-American feels and it blinds all of us to a growing dissension that could be leveraged into a revolt with the result being martial law.  Any implementation of martial law will only expand the revolt to other groups (such as militia groups).

Let's not forget Mr. Obama's legislation on immigration.  With the stroke of a pen, he changed the status of 11 million immigrants.  Great except what are those now legal immigrants supposed to do?  Now they have rights (?) but no jobs and that can lead to another revolt.  Imagine federal agents showing up en masse to interior parts of the country to quell the insurrection.  Won't the 2nd Amendment advocates get into a frenzy over that scenario.

Finally, what about our or citizens who are Muslim?  How many of them have suffered from prejudices and biases against them from who the media and Hollywood portray terrorists? How many of their relatives have been killed, injured of captured in their native countries?  "Then they should be supporting terrorists!"  I wonder how many French citizens are saying the same thing?

Part of being American is being able to disagree with one another but we have to remain vigilant that our disagreements don't cause us to miss the threats from outside our country.  The superpower status the US enjoyed is being seriously challenged by Russia and China.  Even small groups such as Daesh and Al Qaeda see a chance to create havoc within our borders.

One last item, matters in France are not likely to improve given this report from Air Force Times:

"France is dispatching the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Persian Gulf along with its fleet to join coalition efforts to combat ISIS militants in Iraq, reported Yahoo! News via Agence France-Presse. The country is contributing 15 land-based strike aircraft as well as an E-3F AWACS, KC-135FR tanker, and a pair of Atlantique II maritime patrol aircraft, according to the Jan. 6 press report. French aircraft have flown a combined total of some 130 sorties, predominantly focused on providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to coalition forces, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was quoted as saying. Though US aircraft are currently conducting approximately 60 percent of Operation Inherent Resolve strike sorties, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are all contributing air assets to the fight in Iraq, while several Arab states are hitting targets alongside the US over Syria."

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