Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Sidebar on the French "Situation"

It's fascinating to follow the American major media's coverage of the current French "troubles". The Los Angeles Times is having a fit of indecision.

Take this front page article in Friday's paper: "Riots Put a Fear in the French" The subhead says "With clashes ongoing in largely Muslim suburbs in Paris, officials deploy 1,000 police in hopes of reining in restive Arab and African youths." On the rest of the front page there is no more mention of the word "Muslim" (or "Islam" for that matter). Just "youths" of African and Arab descent. Then we turn to page A5. One paragraph into this second page we learn that "(v)iolent disturbances are nothing new in the bleak public housing projects on the urban periphery, where intelligence officials say that the two most powerful social forces are the drug underworld and Islamic activisim." Ah, but not to worry. Read on: "Although Islamic extremism is seen as a serious problem in some of the affected neighborhoods, there is no indication that Muslim fundamentalist leaders have encouraged the unrest, authorities say." So happy to find there's no encouragement of this sort of thing. What a relief.

Or is it? Further down in the same column we learn that "(a) group of youth's clashed with [Interior Minister] Sarkozy's entourage and threw objects at him, an incident instigated by known Islamic fundamentalists, the inteligence official said." A fine Timesian distinction between a Muslim fundamentalist leader and an Islamic fundamentalist instigator can be discerned here, the usefulness of which I will leave you to work out.

Fitting the news into the politically correct template must make for an agonizing work day.