Saturday, November 19, 2005
In his Nov. 9 op-ed column, "French Lessons," Jim Hoagland posited that "France and its beautiful, troubled capital are proxies for all affluent nations that have elevated into an art form the habit of ignoring the world's poor. . . ."
In reality, the rioting was uniquely French, so I would rather hear about the plight of the French poor than the all-too-abstract "world's poor."
In France, social policies have alienated a vast segment of the population and diminished the wealth of the country, whose citizens' average buying power is now only about two-thirds of what we enjoy in the United States.
The French culture speaks and writes mellifluously about the values of multiculturalism (whatever that means), but it remains business as usual. Anyone who interacts with Parisians with any regularity knows that their culture is decades behind the times with respect to nondiscrimination and opportunities for minorities.
Mr. Hoagland perceives commonalities in France's failed and hypocritical social policy and the status of Middle Eastern foreign policy or the hurricane-induced looting of New Orleans. But he does a disservice to poor, young French citizens, many of whom would love to live in the United States or Canada, where they might have a chance to find a job, buy a house or get an education. In their beautiful capital, those things are impossible.