France riots prove U.S. has come farther than most

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2005

The outbreak of violence this past month in France was the result of building tensions between an impoverished, largely Muslim population and the French upper and middle class. The deaths of two Muslim youths was the match that lit the proverbial keg of dynamite, as alienated immigrants took out years of frustration by rioting in the streets of Paris and setting fire to thousands of automobiles. The violence spread to cities throughout France, even touching Belgium and Germany in separate isolated incidents.

A recent Associated Press article pointed to the similarity between the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the United States and France’s rioting woes. Following both disasters – one natural, one man-made – each country now finds itself having to deal with long dormant racial tension and glaring social differences between the rich and poor.

It’s interesting to note, that while France continuously demeans the United States as politically ignorant and socially inept, it is the U.S. that has been willing to deal with slavery and its intolerant past towards people of various ethnic backgrounds.

French experts have cited affirmative action as proof of that.

“Affirmative action in the U.S. at least recognizes that racism exists, that problems are linked to color,” Dominic Thomas, a French-born instructor who now teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the AP. “The French talk about how they’re indivisible, but they end up with unrepresentative government.”

Generations will pass before the bloody stain of racism is finally removed from our society. However, while there is still much that must be done, it’s clear that our country has come farther than most.