Why the French Riot
Reflections on culture, mobs, and memory
Why doesn’t anyone remember anything?
Five days of violent riots in France are now drawing to a close. I expect that by Wednesday, when the French begin to turn their minds to their vacations, calm will be restored.
This time the upheaval was nowhere near central Paris, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have known about it had I not read about it in the news. I saw not a thing out of the ordinary. Many of you have seen headlines like the ones below and have kindly written to urge me to flee. You’re very sweet, but the situation here is not what you might imagine.
I understand that Americans have been given to understand (depending on their partisan position) that either a) France’s marginalized Black and Brown Bodies have righteously risen up against France’s Endemic Structural Racism—or b) civil war has erupted in France and an Islamic Republic has been declared.
This one is my favorite:
You would think this kind of agitprop so ludicrous that no adult would for a moment believe it, but in fact, it’s dismayingly effective. (Elon Musk, in particular, believes every word he reads.)
For what it’s worth, I drove all across Paris this morning en route to a dentist appointment. I saw no zebras, to my disappointment.
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