Friday, November 11, 2005

Paris Burning: Intellectual Laziness On My Part

(This is in response to the comment posted by my friend Aaron Cynic on the previous post. I felt I needed to retract a few things and clarify others. Hey, I am an imperfect human.)

Perhaps I made this comment in haste and didn't fully think it through.
I stand by the notion that the French government, like all governments, is ignorant of the concerns of the people that it holds power ocer. I also agree that coercion is never the answer to dealing with the population.

What I was concerned with, and perhaps "neutralize" was the wrong word, is the violence against people and property. Sometimes it becomes necessary to take drastic action to get the government to stand up and take notice. That was the source of my reminder to the French government of their past of such action, not only in 1789, but in 1830, 1848, 1870, 1968.
These people are disenfranchised and therefore do not have access to the system by which political change can be affected. Naturally, then, they must use other means to have their concerns heard.

I am sure that after the last two weeks, the French government has taken notice and possibly might make some changes. Frustration plus disenfranchisement plus poverty can equal disaster. This is clear.

So, to sum up, I retract my unfortunate choice of language and suggestion that people be put down mercilessly. This was an error in judgement made in haste.

As for religion and the French government, I think the record of history speaks for itself. The French government, since the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, has actively sought to subordinate the will of the church to the will of the state. The majority of French people are nominally Catholic. This does not, however, translate into very strong feelings. Churches in France remain empty on most Sundays.

I think that the French identify more with their nationality than with religion and this strikes at the root of the problem at hand. This identity is being defined by different people in different ways and there is a lack of agreement so wide that it has caused violence and a strong-armed response.

I still stand behind the notion that dialogue is better than violence. I do understand, however, that sometimes talk won't work or is not an option. In this case, unconventional means must be taken to bring the issue to the fore.

I am, to reiterate, against government violence against citizens. This breaks the essential contract of democratic government.

I just always prefer peace to conflict. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is not an option.

Thanks, Aaron, for keeping my on my toes with this. I spoke in haste, didn't think things through, and you called me on it.

Also, thanks to Matt Jenks for agreeing with some of my flawed statement (a part that I did not retract above.)

Now, there are some true friends and intellectual fellow travellers.

Thanks again.

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