Sunday, November 06, 2005

one Frenchman's opinion on France & the riots

My longtime buddy Dominique, to whom I sent a very long email regarding the riots and some personal stuff, replies:

[reply has been edited so that private matters remain private]

salut kevin

ça fait plaisir d'avoir de tes nouvelles,

en France en fait tout le monde en parle mais finalement il n'y a pas vraiment de motifs pour ces émeutes quand les habitants des banlieues parlent que ce soient des blancs ou des arabes ou des noirs les gens ne comprennent pas vraiment ces émeutes, en fait tout est parti de la mort de 2 jeunes qui à priori n'étaient même pas poursuivi par la police mais les jeunes des banlieues ont rendu responsable la police, donc il fallait que les jeunes se vengent et voilà

En fait ça casse pour casser et ça va s'arrêter et on saura pas pourquoi les voitures ont brûlé en fait dans 18 mois il y a une élection présidentielle et tous les hommes et femmes politiques ne parlent plus que de cette élection à gauche comme à droite, à l'extrême gauche comme à l'extrême droite tous attendent, la France est au ralenti, les politiques ne s'occupent plus de rien, on parle plus souvent de Lionel Jospin qui vient de sortir un livre et qui avait pourtant décider de quitter toutes responsabilités politiques que [des] membres du gouvernement pour dire un truc intelligent ou faire des choses, alors avec ces émeutes ça fait un peu d'occupation mais franchement c'est n'importe quoi!

En France tout est prétexte à casser, à faire la grève ex : à Marseille les chauffeurs de bus ont fait la grève pendant 33 jours et au bout des 33 jours la justice a dit que cette grève était illégale et que les chauffeurs devaient reprendre le travail donc 33 jours pour rien mais c'est pas fini, ils sont en train de chercher un nouveau motif ( avec leurs avocats ! ce n'est pas une blague ) pour faire la grève et recommencer leur bordel ! y'a qu'en France que ça peut exister !, parfois les français sont des cons! pendant que les anglais continuent à travailler et à donner produire des emplois, que les allemands trouvent une solution pour faire 1 gouvernement gauche et droite, ensemble, les français se regardent le nombril et pleurent sur leur sort!

Quand on travaille, on arrête pour faire la grève et quand on est jeune et qu'on a pas de travail on casse et on brûle (les voitures et les camions de ceux qui travaillent! ça c'est l'ironie de la situation ), finalement je ne sais pas qui donne le meilleur exemple!


Hi, Kevin

A pleasure to get news from you.

As a matter of fact, in France, everyone is talking about it [the riots] but in the end there aren't really any motives [behind the rioting] from what the suburbanites are saying. Whether they're white or Arab or black, people don't really understand the riots. The whole thing started with the deaths of two teens who weren't even being chased by the police, but suburban youth held the police responsible for their deaths, so the youth had to get their revenge and there we are.

In fact, things are being smashed to be smashed and it's going to stop [on its own], and we won't know why cars were burned. In 18 months, there's a presidential election and all the male and female politicians are talking only about this election, left as well as right. On the extreme left and right, everyone's waiting, France is slowing down; politicians aren't taking care of anything. People talk more about Lionel Jospin, who just published a book and decided to quit all his political responsibilities, than about [having] members of the government say something intelligent or do something... so with the riots people are perking up but it's still "whatever."

In France, everything is an excuse for smashing stuff or going on strike, e.g., in Marseille, bus drivers were on strike for 33 days, but in the end, the court said the strike was illegal. So that was 33 days for nothing, but it's not over yet: they [the strikers] are looking (with their lawyers! no joke!) for new reasons to strike and start their shit up again. Sometimes, the French are idiots. While the English continue to work and create jobs, and the Germans find ways to make a coalition government of left and right together, the French stare at their navels and whine about their lot in life.

When people work, they stop work in order to go on strike, and when they're young and don't have any work, they smash and burn (the cars and trucks of those who DO work!-- that's the irony of this situation). In the end I don't know who's setting the best example!

Longtime readers of this blog know I'm a political moderate. You also know I'm rabid about keeping my comment threads civil. While Dominique's missive might provide France haters with ammunition for jokes, I won't tolerate them in my comments section. If you take a dim view of France, then look at Domi's letter in a positive light: it's an indication that not all French folks think alike-- an easy lesson to learn while in France (a country that, for the most part, highly values individual differences), but an easy lesson to forget while outside of France.

In other news...

Last night, I visited L'Express online, and was initially shocked to see absolutely nothing about the riots in their top news. My own inner France basher was on full alert: are the French media downplaying the riots? But, no; the explanation was simpler: I'd forgotten that L'Express is a French hébdo, that is, a weekly rag (hébdo being short for hébdomadaire, which means "weekly").

I'm sure the next edition of L'Express will be full of commentary about the riots, and I'll translate an article or two. The French, like Americans and Koreans, enjoy spinning long-winded meditations about their own society and culture, so there'll be no shortage of buzz in the aftermath of these riots. Those types of articles, the social commentaries, will likely be of more interest to you and me than the up-to-the-minute news: you can hit the Agence France-Presse's English-language site for instant translations of news coming from France, but English translations of the longer articles won't be readily available. Enter Kevin, who can finally put his language skills (such as they are) to some degree of use.

More as this situation develops.

Ah, a development already: L'Express has updated. Here's their lead article:

Une centaine de véhicules incendiés en banlieue et en province

About 100 vehicles burned in the suburbs and the countryside.

(The above is a Reuters article, so I'm sure it's available in English.)

And-- here's an English Reuters article that puts the number of torched cars at around 600. Yikes. Que deviendra la belle France?

UPDATE: The Reuters link doesn't seem to be working at the moment, so try this AP link.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Please keep up the coverage and commentary...this is very interesting for me as this is not the Europe I remember (granted, the Europe I remember existed for me, many years ago).