November 10, 2005

hell to pay

The only news story that has my attention right now is the riots in Europe. Just how bad is it over there?

Here's the end of Timothy Garton Ash's "This is not only a French crisis - all of Europe must heed the flames" in The Guardian:

On all reasonable assumptions, Europe's population of immigrant descent and Muslim culture will grow significantly over the next decade, both through higher relative birth rates and further immigration. If we cannot make even those who have lived in Europe since birth feel at home here, there will be all hell to pay. Six thousand burning cars will seem like nothing more than an hors-d'oeuvre.

Addressing their socio-economic problems is half the answer, but very difficult, since the key is jobs and jobs are being created in Asia and America more than in Europe. The other half has to do with citizenship, identity and the everyday attitudes of each and every one of their fellow citizens.

Being European should be the overarching civic identity which allows immigrants and those of immigrant descent to feel at home. Indeed, it should, in theory, be easier to feel Turkish-European, Algerian-European or Moroccan-European than it is to feel Turkish-German, Algerian-French or Moroccan-Spanish, because being European is by definition a broader, more all-embracing identity. But it isn't easier.

Somehow, Europeanness doesn't work like that. Native-born Europeans can feel French-European, German-European or Spanish-European. Some - we happy few, we band of brothers - even feel British-European. And there are examples of people who definitely do feel, say, Pakistani-British or Tunisian-French. But the direct hyphenation rarely works. To address the greatest problem of our continent, and not just of France, we need to do nothing less than to redefine what it means to be a European.

Posted by Dennis at November 10, 2005 11:41 PM

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