AS an orgy of burning and looting spreads across France, notably in areas dominated by families of recent immigrant origin, the widely propagated message from the legacy media is that these are ‘revolts’ against a systematic targeting of ‘people of colour’ by trigger-happy French police. In the wake of the alarming social media video of a traffic officer pointing his gun directly at the 17-year-old driver of a yellow Mercedes (later identified as Nahel Merzouk) before shooting him at point-blank range, it is an uphill battle to counter this view of events. One French MP described it as an ‘execution’ while establishment newspaper Le Monde described it as a ‘George Floyd’ moment, given Nahel’s North African origins.
Nevertheless, it’s important to separate out three things in this rapidly unfolding story: the problem of the exceptional powers handed to police in the wake of the Islamist terror attacks of 2015 and 2016; the rise in mainstream respectability of the woke French Left; and the problem of a feral form of youth tearing up and pillaging public and private property under the bewildered eyes of their neighbours.
After the horrifying 2015 co-ordinated attacks in Paris which killed 130, including 90 at the Bataclan music venue, and the 2016 lorry attack on pedestrians in Nice in which 86 died, French police officers were given extraordinary discretion to use lethal force to prevent imminent dangers to themselves or members of the public. While we might all want those whose job it is to protect us to be able to take whatever measures needed to disable someone firing at bystanders with a Kalashnikov, you don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool police-hater to think that allowing the use of a state-issued revolver to stop someone who can’t produce his driving licence does sound like a disaster waiting to happen.
Hence the disaster which has happened. And regardless of the attempts of politicians to show their solidarity with the family of the dead teenager (President Emmanuel Macron immediately short-circuiting due process to suggest the action of the police officer who fired the lethal bullet was ‘inexcusable and inexplicable’), and an unprecedented outright apology from the policeman himself via his lawyer, the current anti-police climate on the left has meant that these admissions of guilt have lent respectability to all those who make their political hay from the slogan ‘Police = Murderers’.
It didn’t take long for Mounia, the grieving mother of Nahel, to be co-opted by the woke left to their cause of tearing down traditional French society in the name of intersectionality. In an Instagram post on the channel of militant black activist Assa Traoré, Mounia invited people to join her for a ‘marche blanche’, a normally peaceful, silent procession to mark a tragic death. She was prompted to add that it was a march ‘of revolt’, which she duly did. The following day, everyone got to see what that ‘revolt’ looked like.
Thousands of people turned out, many in traditional Muslim dress, led by some willing to cry ‘Allahu Akbar!’ on camera. All the key people involved, including Mounia, wore rapidly produced ‘Justice for Nahel!’ T-shirts. Some placards read ‘The police kill’. At the end, the whole thing ended in violent chaos, including the desecration of a memorial to wartime Jewish deportees. The compliant media, however, had got the message: French police are racist, Nahel was a victim of racism, and the whole of French society needs tearing down. Even the United Nations was happy to weigh in with its accusations of police racism, lending further credibility to the most ludicrous of anti-racist loudmouths on the ground.
Meanwhile, those nurtured on handouts and taxpayer-funded freebies, mostly school-age but who have long learned that school is a dispensable asset and that money grows on magic money trees (thanks, Covid lockdowns), took advantage of their elevated status as the world’s most important victims of racism to reclaim their due as the oppressed. Having destroyed the entrances to Lidl, or Nike, or the Apple Store, using stolen luxury cars, they gleefully liberated the consumer goods therein and carted off their reparations in shopping trolleys. After all, all those riches were stolen from their ancestors, n’est-ce pas? They then took their righteous anger out on such symbols of their oppression as crèches, buses and trams, breaking windows and setting them alight.
Fools spouting nonsense about an ‘uprising’, such as the French commentators in the Guardian, are clearly mistaking their revolutionary fantasies for reality. In the meantime they miss the key point: how in a classic ‘problem, reaction, solution’ manner, the French elite is using the chaos to advance its agenda of control. More conspiratorial minds than mine might see this as convenient to the point of being orchestrated. I’m more inclined to think it’s simply trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Macron’s response so far, other than sending armoured cars on to the streets of France to deal with the unrest while enjoying a night out in the company of Elton John, is to suggest he’s considering the declaration of a state emergency while, so far, ‘only’ imposing restrictions on public transport in the Paris area and curfews around the country. At the same time, seeing the problem as the spreading of videos of crimes in progress which incite others to copycat behaviour, he wants to force the social media firms to hand over details of the users posting them while removing that content from public view. While it would be absurd to describe the idiots filming other idiots as ‘citizen journalists’, we should acknowledge their role in providing valuable coverage of what is really happening on the ground, information the state would love to be able to hide from us.
Troublingly, a survey suggests 70 per cent of French people would welcome some form of martial law to deal with the current problems. As with Covid, the instinct to deal with danger by forcing everyone to stay off the streets remains strong. The legacy of lockdowns is that the state’s right to shut down daily life has been dramatically reinforced. As hard as we should be expecting private property to be protected from mobs, beware the risks of inviting tinpot despots to force us all to stay at home while they censor our access to reality. We all know too well what that feels like.