Friday, November 18, 2005

Les' fires are burning in the wrong direction.

Dear Mr. Twentyman,

I am writing to address some points made in your opinion piece in the Herald Sun newspaper of today, November 18th, 2005. In particular, your points about the continuing civil unrest in France, and how we should take Islam out of the equation.

In the interest of public debate, I will be copying this letter, with links, onto my blog at

You said:

I am sure most readers would have shared my horror at the violence we saw in Paris.

Paris, long seen as the cultural capital of Europe, the centre of all that is good and uplifting about Western society, liberty, equality, fraternity and all that.

Well, that's all taken a battering in recent weeks.

Thousands of vehicles torched, scores injured, police attacked.

And one has a sense that although it might have gone quiet momentarily, there's a lot more to come.

Especially if senior French politicians continue to inflame the situation with wildly provocative comments.


The explanations for why this should be happening have been varied, but mostly predictable.

I am not surprised that many commentators, including some in Australia, have rushed in and blamed Islamic fundamentalism.

And some of the conclusions arrived at have been just as predictable and simplistic: send them back to where they came from.

Forgetting that many of the young people involved are second and third generation French, and have never been anywhere else.

To read some "experts", Osama bin Laden himself must have been directing operations from his cave in Afghanistan or his apartment in Brussels: take your pick.

The beauty of such simplistic expectations is that it means that we don't need to analyse what the real reasons might be. It just lets us off the hook.

But forget the Islamic angle. To me, what's happening in Paris is little different, although larger in scale, from what has happened in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north of England, in Redfern, in Macquarie Fields in Australia and in countless other places where young people, particularly the young, are disenfranchised,pushed aside and told repeatedly that they don't matter.

(The bold type is my emphasis.)

I don't believe that we can take Islam out of this particular equation.

Your points regarding disenfranchisemnt of the young and them being told they don't matter, or are expendable, are spot on.

It's when you add them to a fundamentalist belief system which perpetuates a sense of entitlement that you get the powder keg that is Europe at present.

We have lack of employment opportunities, we have discrimination. What we also have is a particular belief system that promotes a sense of entitlement, superiority, and segregation.

This belief system also practices polygamy, which is detrimental to any human society it is a part of. In particular,

...if a culture adopts polygamy as its mating system, it will experience heightened levels of male violence.

The rules of polygamy and monogamy are well known to scientists. It's really a matter of simple arithmetic. Into every society is born approximately the same number of males and females. If each takes one mate - if there is "a girl for every boy and a boy for every girl" - then all will all have an approximately equal chance of mating.

If a society tolerates polygamy, however, the equation changes. When one man can take several wives, other men will have none. If there are five eligible males for every four eligible females, for instance, one in five males must remain unmarried.

This creates social tensions. It also creates strategies to deal with these tensions. One is to allow child marriage. Because there is a "wife shortage," men are permitted to reach further down into the female population, marrying girls that have barely reached puberty. In some ancient societies, grown men married infants and waited for them to grow up.


Faced with this exclusion from domestic society, men tend to join the "bachelor herd" - gangs of unattached males that adopt criminal, even warlike, behavior.

(From "Terror and Polygamy" at Jerusalem Summit.)

With the call to jihad against the 'western oppressors' being heard ever more loudly, then surely it's permissible to take on board exactly what these disaffected youths are actually saying and doing?

They are declaring that the rule of law in secular France is not acceptable.

They do not want jobs. They do not want responsibility.

They want recognition of their own worthiness, and that comes only from within. While they live within the separatist Islamic dogma, they will never be satisfied with handouts or what they perceive (rightly) as condescension.

The only thing that has really changed lately is that now they are willing to put some force into their demands rather than just sit around complaining about how hard done by they are.

Now they are taking action, and since the French government has effectively caved in to them, there will be more to come.

This will be encouraged by muslims around the world.

That is what is different about Redfern, although I don't doubt that some in that community would be watching Paris burn with interest.

Considering what has been happening here in Australia lately, please do not ever discount Islam as a very real force in people's lives. It can motivate people just as strongly as disenfranchisement and despair can motivate, if not more so.

Thank you for taking the time to read this far.




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